- Dale R. Broadhurst's  SPALDING  RESEARCH  PROJECT -

The Dale R. Broadhurst
"Spalding Papers"

Paper #12: Sciotia Revisited:
Solomon Spalding / Book of Mormon Thematic Parallels

Part I.  (this web-page) An Annotated Bibliography of Thematic Parallels
Part II.  Commentary on Mr. M. D. Bown's "One Hundred Similarities"
Part III.  Spalding/Book of Mormon Parallels Tabulation
  (under constr.) 

Scans from Solomon Spalding's "Roman Story" and from the 1830 Book of Mormon


Part  I:

An Annotated Bibliography


- i -

Preface to the Electronic Text

Genesis of The Annotated List

This chronological listing of Spalding/Book of Mormon Parallels References first appeared as an appendix to my 1980 Spalding Research Project Working Paper No. 10: "A New Basis for the Spaulding Theory." When I revised the epitome of that working paper for presentation before the John Whitmer Historical Society that same year, I expanded the list somewhat and added my own annotation. Two years later, in my preparation of appendices and supporting reference material for my 1982 Mormon History Association paper, "The Secular and the Sacred," I again added to the tabulation and incorporated into that presentation. In 1996 I updated the contents and reproduced the results as an electronic text. In October, 1998 I again expanded this material and reformatted it as a web document, adding hypertext links, graphics, etc.

I circulated a few copies of the earlier versions of this material among a few research associates, but prior to my posting the e-text on the web in 1998 it was not generally available to the public or even to students of Mormon history and scriptures. The current version remains a work in progress. I present it here primarily for bibliographic purposes, rather than as a definitive statement of my own views regarding thematic and phraseology parallels in the writings of Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon.

Definition of Terms

During the past century and a half numerous writers have attempted to demonstrate the fact that there are similarities between the writings of the Rev. Solomon Spalding and the contents of the Book of Mormon. More specifically, those persons offering such information have usually attempted to show how the story outline, thematic elements, names, phraseology, or vocabulary of the Spalding manuscript now on file at Oberlin College match the counterparts of those same items as they occur in the Book of Mormon. Although the term "Oberlin Spalding manuscript" was not coined until 1886, that name is used here as the retrospective identifier of this particular Spalding text, from the time of its discovery in 1833 forward. Many of the references I have compiled make use of the term "Manuscript Found" in reference to this short work of fiction. Although both the RLDS (in 1885) and the LDS (in 1886) published the text under that title, that name is a misidentification of this particular document. I has also been referred to by some writers as "Manuscript Story." Although the wrapper in which it was discovered in 1884 bore the title, "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek," that title does not appear anywhere within the pages of the document itself and may also be a misnomer. There is no substantial evidence indicating that Solomon Spalding ever referred to this particular holograph by either the title "Manuscript Found" or the title "Manuscript Story."

The Book of Mormon has seen numerous printings at the hands of various publishers over the past century and a half. Many of these editions contain an account purporting to describe Joseph Smith, Jr.'s involvement with the discovery and coming forth of the text published in the book. Other editions have contained various literary supplements and additions, none of which may properly be called the text of the Book of Mormon. All of my references to the text are to the wording as published in the 1830 Palmyra first edition. The first edition did not include the Smith discovery account or any of the other supplements found in subsequent editions. However, some past writers have occasionally referred to this extra textual material in the Book of Mormon in compiling their lists of thematic and phraseology parallels with Spalding's writings. In a few places I have retained these extraneous references in my compilation, even though they may not rely exclusively upon the Book of Mormon text. The careful reader will notice these extraneous references and give them whatever attention they appear to merit -- if any.

Scope of the Compiled List

While the annotated chronological list that follows is comprised primarily of extracts from published statements, descriptions and articles referring to the Oberlin manuscript, I have also allowed some space for references to literary parallels found in certain other writings and alleged productions of Solomon Spalding which have rarely been made available to the general public. Some of this material has been discussed or referred to under the title of "Manuscript Found," but, as already mentioned, that document is no longer extant. At this point in history the question of what exactly did and did not appear in Spalding's "Manuscript Found" is a moot one. Since the only verifiable, substantial extant writings of the Rev. Spalding are limited to the contents of the Oberlin manuscript, I have tried to confine my excerpts from published articles and statements to those having to do with that document alone. However, I have included a few references to a few other texts when those references appear to be germane to the topic at hand. The list I have compiled is by no means an exhaustive one. In selecting and presenting those items shown in my compilation's table of contents, I have passed over many relatively minor and repetitious sources. This has especially been my policy when I have come across published materials containing nothing more than quotes from previously published sources.

With the above explanations made clear, the reader will hopefully be able to make sense of the information, facts, and alleged facts contained in the following bibliographic list, the accompanying excerpts from original sources, and my own appended comments.

Use of the Compiled List

Following the discovery of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript in 1884, Mormon apologists were eager to publicize the fact that its story and characters were not the story and characters found in the Book of Mormon. However, this kind of use of the Oberlin document by Mormon apologists was not especially productive if the manuscript's text contained no similarities with the Mormon book whatsoever. The apologists quickly began to argue that Solomon Spalding wrote only one piece of fiction during his entire life and that story was the one on file at Oberlin College. However, if the Oberlin story in no way resembled the narrative found in the Book of Mormon, then it was difficult for anybody to account for the fact that it had ever been claimed to be the basis of the "Nephite Record" in the first place. So it was that thoughtful LDS and RLDS apologists began to admit that the Oberlin manuscript did contain a few, unimportant similarities to the Book of Mormon story. The explanation was put out that the early witnesses to Spalding's writings recalled these few, small parallels with the Book of Mormon in the Oberlin story story and then went about exaggerating their significance, to the point that some people actually began to believe that the two texts must be closely related.

Compilations of thematic and phraseology parallels help demonstrate the degree of resemblance between the two stories. Logically speaking, the more significant parallels that a person is able to compile the more that person could argue that parts of the Book of Mormon reflect Spalding's writing style and favorite fictional themes. Of course, to the faithful Mormon apologist, no such list could ever stand as evidence that Solomon Spalding contributed anything to a record reportedly engraved upon golden plates centuries before Spalding was even born. To the skeptic or dedicated non-believer, however, their inspection of the lengthier listings of parallels might be useful in helping them to decide whether or not the Book of Mormon was an early 19th century production, no matter who its writer or writers may have been.

Since none of the lists of parallels compiled over the years includes any crucial points of exact identity between the two texts, the efforts of the modern reader in fathoming the resemblance are reduced to such academic pursuits as looking for patterns in word occurrence, demarking textual blocks for computerized word studies, and articulating very similar phrases and episodes in the texts utilized by their respective authors for the same literary or philosophical purposes. At the very least, the non-Mormon can use the lengthier lists of parallels to discredit the claims made by some overzealous "defenders of the faith," who say that Spalding's writings do not resemble anything in the Book of Mormon. Since experienced Latter Day Saint scholars seldom make such outlandish assertions, there appears to be little reason for anyone to habitually cite these lists in order to refute the claims of sensible "Mormonism."

Dale R. Broadhurst
February 2003


- ii -

- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

Table of Contents

Preface to the Electronic Edition


    A. Similarities Mentioned Between 1834 and 1884

01. Howe, Eber D. (1834)

02. Haven, John (1840 - Jan.)

03. Winchester, Benjamin (1840)

04. Spalding, Josiah (1855 - Jan. 6)

05a. Jackson, Abner (1881)

05b. Patterson, Robert, Jr. (1882)

05c. Smith, Joseph III. (1883 - Mar.)

06. Reynolds, George (1882)

07. Kelley, E. L. & Braden, Clark (1884)

    B. Similarities Mentioned between 1884 and 1885

08. Bishop, Sereno E. (1884 - Dec.)

09. Fairchild, James H. (1885 - Jan.)

10. Rice, Lewis L. (1885 - Jan. 30)

11. Fairchild, James H. (1885 - Feb. 27)

12. Rice, Lewis L. (1885 - Mar. 28)

13. Smith, Joseph F., sr. (1885 - May 11)

14. Kelley, William L. (1885 - Jul. 23)

15. Hyde, C. M. (1885 - Jul. 30)

16. Blair, W. W. (1885 - Aug. 8)

17. Blair, W. W. (1885 - Aug. 15)

    C. Similarities Mentioned between 1885 and 1886

18. Penrose, Charles (1885 - Dec. 4)

19. Editor, Deseret News (1886)

20. Fairchild, James H. (1886 - Jan.)

21. Gibson, George R. (1886 - Jul.)

22. Fairchild, James H. (1886)

    D. Similarities Mentioned between 1887 and 1901

23. Traughber, J. L., jr. (1887 -Mar. 28)

24. Whitsitt, William H. (1891)

25. Whitney, Orson F. (1892)

26. Editor, Cleveland Recorder (1897 - May 18)

27. Smith, Joseph F., Sr. (1900 - April)

28. Schroeder, A. Theodore (1901)

    E. Similarities Mentioned between 1902 and 1909

29. Mahaffey, J. E. (1902)

30. Editor or writer, Globe-Democrat (1902)

31. Evans, John H. (1905)

32. Smith, Joseph III (1908 - Apr. 21)

33a. Roberts, B. H. (1908)

33b. Roberts, B. H. (1909)

34. Hooton, A. O. (1909)

    F. Similarities Mentioned between 1910 and 1936

35. Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911)

36. Meyer. Eduard (1912)

37. Smith, T. C. (1912 - Sep.)

38. Shook, Charles A. (1914)

39. Driggs, Howard R. (1915 - Oct.)

40. Homans, J. E. (1915)

41. Homans, J. E. (1916)

42. Roberts, B. H. (c. 1920)

43. Smith, Joseph Fielding (1922)

44. Encyclopaedia of Religion (1924)

45. Wipper, Frank(?) (c. 1930)

46. Arbaugh, George B. (1932)

    G. Similarities Mentioned between 1937 and 1945

47. Bown, M. D. (c. 1937)

48. McGavin, E. Cecil (1940)

49. Bales, James D. (1942)

50. Fry, Evan A. (1944)

51. Brodie, Fawn M. (1945)

    H. Similarities Mentioned between 1946 and 1958

52. Halter, Doris M. (1946)

53. White, Joseph Welles (1947)

54. Goulder, Grace (1950)

55. Kirkham, Francis W. (1951)

56. Widstoe, John A. (1957)

57. Fielding, Robert Kent (1957)

58. O'Dea, Thomas F. (1957)

59. Bales, James D. (1958)

    I. Similarities Mentioned between 1959 and 1968

60. Nibley, Hugh (1959)

61. DePillis, Mario S. (1960)

62. Coyle, William (1962)

63. Cheville, Roy A. (1964)

64. Wengreen, A. Dean (1964)

65. Morley, Ray Gerald (1965)

66. Davies, Charles A. (1966)

67. Hill, Marvin S. (1968)

    J. Similarities Mentioned between 1969 and 1977

68. Allen, James B. and Arrington, Leonard J. (1969)

69. Alhstrom, Sydney E. (1972)

70. Allen, James B. and Leonard, Glen M. (1976)

71. Blumell, Bruce D.

72. Hill, Donna (1977)

73. Curtis, Susan (1977)

74. Martin, Walter (1977)

75. Davis, Howard, et al.(1977)

    K. Similarities Mentioned between 1977 and 1983

76. Bush, Lester E. (1977)

77. Merrill, David (1977)

78. Jessee, Dean C. (1977)

79. Howard, Richard P. (1977)

80. Martin, Walter (1978)

81. Arrington, L. J. & Bitton, Davis (1979)

82. Broadhurst, Dale R. (1982)

83. Holley, Vernal (1983)

    L. A Few Similarities Mentioned after 1983

84. Norwood, L. Ara (1989)

85a. Griffith, Michael T. (1993)
85b. Carter, K. Codell & Isaac, Christopher B. (1994)

86. Brown, Robert L. & Rosemary (1993)

87. Reeve, Rex C., Jr. (1996)

88. Chandler, Ted (1997-99)


- iii -

- Sciota Revisited: Part I -


The First Mention of Similarities or Dissimilarities

Eber D. Howe, a newspaper editor and publisher in Painesville, Ohio, was the first person who had what is now referred to as Spalding's "Oberlin MS" in his possession and who was also in a position to inform the reading public of its contents. Howe was familiar with the Book of Mormon and might easily have examined the two texts and reported on their similarities and dissimilarities. In fact the Painesville editor chose not to provide his readers with any such detailed descriptions. Rather than subjecting the contents of Spalding's writings to a comparison with the text of the Mormons' scriptural book, he merely printed a brief summary of the former in his 1834 anti-Mormon book, Mormonism Unvailed. We can suppose that Howe did carry out such an examination in private, but, once he saw how superficially unlike the two stories were, he must have quickly abandoned the task.

This same pattern of examination and rejection would recur in the experiences of many subsequent readers. They conducted a cursory examination of the two texts and hastily formed opinions that the works were in no significant way alike. But before this process could be carried on beyond the confines of the Painesville Telegraph office, Howe mislaid Spalding's thin production and there followed a fifty year hiatus during which no one read the Oberlin MS.

Earliest Reports of Similarities Were Based Upon Testimony

During this lengthy period (between 1834 and 1884) when the Oberlin MS was unavailable for study, the attention of textual similarity seeking writers was directed to an expansion of a certain allegation printed in Howe's book: "This old M.S. has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognize it as Spalding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient." Conneaut witness Aaron Wright confirmed this report in his Dec. 1833 letter to the Ohio anti-Mormons -- however, the contents of this letter were apparently never made available to Mr. Howe and other early writers on Mormonism. Abandoning the unavailable Oberlin manuscript, subsequent reporters would concentrate on gathering and printing numerous testimonies telling how the Book of Mormon resembled this second, more bible-like manuscript said to have been penned by Spalding.

Practically lost among the half-century's accumulations of printed statements and allegations were a few instances in which readers of Howe's book attempted to use his summary of the Oberlin manuscript as a basis for finding and documenting parallels between Spalding's writings and the Mormon book. Although Howe's summary of Spalding's romance was exceptionally brief, it, along with the odd substantiating remark offered by Spalding's old relatives, friends, and neighbors, provided enough information on similarities to occasionaly attract a few investigators' attention during the next fifty years.

After the Oberlin MS Became Available in 1884

After the Oberlin MS again came to light in 1884, the emphasis in similarities and dissimilarities documentation gradually shifted from the examination of printed testimonies to a study of the manuscript itself. This was a natural development for two reasons. In the first place, the reserve of previously unprinted testimonies telling how Spalding's writings resembled the Book of Mormon had largely dried up by the time the Oberlin document was made public. When taken altogether, this pile of testimonies and remembrances from decades long past had become a tangled mass of speculation and contradiction which proved almost nothing. In the second place, the Oberlin romance appeared to most readers to be so unlike the story told in the "Nephite narrative" that Book of Mormon defenders and disinterested writers alike began to report, with growing confidence, how the Spalding authorship theory had become a dead issue, proved by the published writings of the man himself.

One interesting exception to the previously mentioned trend among the commentators on Mormonism and its scriptures may be found in the unpublished writings of William Heth Whitsitt (1841-1911), the third President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Arguing against the prevailing opinion of the times, Whitsitt wrote a voluminous biography of Mormon leader Sidney Rigdon and therein laid out a detailed theory utilizing the old Spalding-based claims for the origin of the Book of Mormon. Since Whitsitt's theory was published only in the most brief and obscure way during his lifetime, his considerations regarding the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon never became widely known and probably made no significant impact on the work of later writers.

More Recent Developments

The ushering in of the twentieth century marked a new beginning in the publication of Oberlin MS-Book of Mormon similarities information. Disregarding the mainstream opinions which discredited the "Spalding Theory," writers like A. Theodore Schroeder (1901), J. E. Mahaffey (1902) and A, O. Hooton (1909) set a new example in their compiling extensive lists of textual and thematic parallels. The writers who carried out such renewed efforts to examine the Book of Mormon in the light of the Oberlin manuscript generally attempted to maintain at least the appearance of engaging in careful research and scholarly reporting. The books and articles of B. H. Roberts, T. C. Smith, Charles A. Shook, George B. Arbaugh, and M. D. Bown more or less fall into this category.

The direct heir of this kind of textual inquiry was Mr. M. D. Bown, a Brigham Young University student during the mid-1930's. Bown's unpublished paper of 1937, "One Hundred Similarities..." marked a high point in thematic similarities compilation. Bown presented his investigation and reporting as objective scholarship, dedicated to the task of listing all the more clearly evident parallels in the two texts. Although his report has never seen a wide distribution among Book of Mormon scholars its contents influenced the textual explorations of later investigators like this editor (Dale R. Broadhurst) and the Utah writer Vernal Holley. In his 1983 Book of Mormon Authorship, A Closer Look Holley brought Bown's name before the public and extended the scope of that reporter's investigation to include parallels in phraseology as well as in story theme. Until the web-publication of Ted Chandler's contributions and the current "Sciota Revisited" series (from 1998 forward), Holley's booklet was practically the only source in print and readily available on the topic of Spalding manuscript and Book of Mormon parallels. The Holley publication is now out of print, but a few file copies are still offered for sale at this web-site, while they last.


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 1 -

Thematic Similarties List A.
Parallels Mentioned Between 1834 and 1884
(From E.D. Howe Until the Re-discovery of the MS)

01. Howe, Eber D.
Mormonism Unvailed, Painesville, Ohio, 1834.

Howe relates the story of the discovery of what is today called the Oberlin Spalding manuscript and gives a brief synopsis of its storyline. Where he says that only a single manuscript was found among the late writer's possessions, Howe is evidently relying upon the verbal report he received from D. P. Hurlbut, when Hurlbut handed over his research materials to Howe, about the first of February, 1834. There is reason to believe that Hurlbut was not honest in what he was saying regarding Solomon Spalding's writings at that time, and that he actually recovered more from "the trunk" in Hartwick, New York than just a single Spalding holograph. Mr. Howe quotes the Conneaut Witnesses (Spalding's relatives and neighbors) as saying that the Oberlin document "bears no resemblance" to an alleged second Spalding work, which was essentially the same as a large portion of the Book of Mormon's contents. These remarks give the modern reader the impression that the Conneaut witnesses, D. P. Hurlbut, and Eber D. Howe all felt that the Oberlin manuscript bore no notable resemblance to the Book of Mormon.

Excerpt from Howe, page 288:
The trunk referred to by the widow, was subsequently examined, and found to contain only a single M.S. book, in Spalding's hand-writing, containing about one quire of paper. This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found on 24 rolls of parchment in a cave, on the banks of the Conneaut Creek, but written in modern style, and giving a fabulous account of a ship's being driven upon the American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short time previous to the Christian era, this country then being inhabited by the Indians. This old M.S. has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognise it as Spalding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the "Manuscript Found."

02. Haven, John (quoting Martha Spalding Davison)

"A Cunning Device Detected," Times and Seasons I:3 (Jan., 1840), p. 47. (reprinted from the Nov. 16, 1839 issue of the Quincy Whig).

In Elder Jesse Haven's report of a deceptive (he evidently did not identify himself as a Mormon) interview with Spalding's widow, Matilda Spalding Davison, he touches upon the textual similarities issue. She says that in the two texts "some few of the names are alike." In saying this the widow was apparently referring to the "Manuscript Found" and not to what is today known as the Oberlin manuscript. If her words were made in reference to the Oberlin story (a very unlikely possibility), then the remembered manuscript names might have been such one as: Jesus Christ, Labanco, Hamelick, and Moonrod (cf. BoM: Jesus Christ, Laban, Amulek, and Nimrod).

03. Winchester, Benjamin

The Origin of the Spaulding Story, Philadelphia, 1840.

Winchester reports of a Mr. Jackson's (Lyman Jackson?) memory of the contents of the Oberlin manuscript and its alleged similarities with the Book of Mormon as: "...there was no agreement between them... The Book of Mormon... is written in a different style, and altogether different" (pp. 8-9). Winchester also quotes the 1834 Howe synopsis and adds, "any one who has read the Book of Mormon, knows that the contents are altogether dissimilar from this description" (p. 20). The potential problems with Winchester's hearsay report are that it was made after Lyman Jackson had died and that it contains nothing other than what the writer might have picked up by reading Howe's book. Thus, Winchester may have manufactured Jackson's testimony, or mis-reported what Jackson said to him. See Abner Jackson's 1881 statement for some idea of views held by his father and other family members regarding Solomon Spalding. Also, see Josiah Spalding's 1855 statement (below) for a more detailed eye-witness account of the Oberlin manuscript, given from memory.

04. Spalding, Josiah

Letter of Jan. 6, 1855 to George Chapman, printed in Edward Spalding's Spalding Memorial, Boston, 1872, pp. 160-162; reprinted in Charles Warren Spalding's Spalding Memorial, Chicago, 1897, pp. 254-256.

Solomon Spalding's brother tells that the Oberlin MS was written as the result of a dream in which Solomon was told of "a written history that would answer the inquiry respecting the civilized people that once inhabited that country" (the Great Lakes area). Other than confusing the Mississippi with his brother's "Deliwah" river, Josiah provides a remarkably correct synopsis of the Oberlin MS from his personal memory of events forty years in the past. He mentions "a striking resemblance" between the general theme of his brother's work and that of the Book of Mormon. Unlike many others who provided testimony regarding the pseudohistorical writings of Solomon Spalding, Josiah does not equate his brother's Oberlin MS with the Book of Mormon and he does not relate any nearly identical incidents or names from the two sources.

Excerpt from Charles W. Spalding, pp. 254-55:
I went to see my brother and staid with him some time. I found him unwell, and somewhat low in spirits. He began to compose his novel, which it is conjectured that the Mormons made use of in forming their bible. Indeed, although there was nothing in it of Mormonism or that favored error in any way, yet I am apprehensive that they took pattern from it in forming their delusion. You may find my reason in what follows.

In the town where he lived, which I expect is now called Salem, Ohio, there is the appearance of an ancient fort, and near by a large mound, which, when opened, was found to contain human bones. These things gave it the appearance of its being inhabited by a civilized people. These appearances furnished a topic of conversation among the people. My brother told me that a young man told him that he had a wonderful dream. He dreamed that he himself (if I recollect right) opened a great mound, where there were human bones. There he found a written history that would answer the inquiry respecting the civilized people that once inhabited that country until they were destroyed by the savages. This story suggested the idea of writing a novel merely for amusement. The title of his novel, I think, was "Historical Novel," or "Manuscript Found." This novel is the history contained in the manuscript found. The author of it he brings from the Old World, but from what nation I do not recollect; I think not a Jew; nor do I recollect how long since, but I think before the Christian Era. He was a man of superior learning suited to that day. He went to sea, lost his point of compass, and finally landed on the American shore; I think near the mouth of the Mississippi River. There he reflects most feelingly on what he suffered, his present condition and future prospects; he likewise makes some lengthy remarks on astronomy and philosophy, which I should think would agree in sentiment and style with very ancient writings. He then started and traveled a great distance through a wilderness country inhabited by savages, until he came to a country where the inhabitants were civilized, cultivated their land, and had a regular form of government, which was at war with the savages. There I left him and never saw him nor his writings any more...

I never saw the Mormon bible but once, and then only for a minute, no time to examine it. I have but little knowledge of Mormonism; I have been out of the way of it. You, sir, no doubt, have more knowledge; but if I have been rightly informed, there is a striking resemblance between the first start and introduction of the Mormon bible and my brother's novel. They both claimed that the manuscripts from which they pretend they copied were of very ancient date and written by men that came here from the old world.

05a. Jackson, Rev. Abner

"Abner Jackson's Statement" in the Washington, PA Daily Evening Reporter, Jan. 7, 1881.

Abner Jackson was the son of the Lyman Jackson that Benjamin Winchester, in his 1840 pamphlet, reported interviewing prior to Lyman's death. The children of Lyman Jackson knew Solomon Spalding, who sold their father his Pennsylvania homestead and who lived not many miles away, across the Ohio border. One of Lyman's daughters became a Mormon, but the remainder of the family evidently were Methodists, including his son Abner, who became a preacher. Abner tells a far different account of what Spalding showed his father than does Elder Winchester. The apparent problem with Abner's account is that it seems to describe a story written by Solomon Spalding which has thematic overlaps with both the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon. The "lost tribes" novel summarized in Abner's statement may well have been the lost "Manuscript Found," but viewed at a stage in its literary development before it was reportedly converted into the Book of Mormon.

Abner Jackson's statement would have probably been lost to the world, had not the Rev. Robert Patterson, Jr. provided an extensive quote from it in his 1882 "Who Wrote The Book of Mormon?" See the next item below for information on Patterson's work.

Excerpt from Jackson's letter:
It is a fact well established that the book called the Book of Mormon, had its origin from a romance that was written by Solomon Spaulding... about the beginning of the year 1812, [he] commenced to write his famous romance called by him "The Manuscript Found."

This romance, Mr. Spaulding brought with him on a visit to my father... read much of his manuscript to my father, and in conversation with him, explained his views of the old fortifications in this country, and told his Romance. A note in Morse's Geography suggested it as a possibility that our Indians were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Said Morse, they might have wandered through Asia up to Behring's Strait, and across the Strait to this continent. Besides there were habits and ceremonies among them that resembled some habits and ceremonies among the Israelites of that day. Then the old fortifications and earth mounds, containing so many kinds of relics and human bones, and some of them so large, altogether convinced him that they were a larger race and more enlightened and civilized than are found among the Indians among us at this day. These facts and reflections prompted him to write his Romance, purporting to be a history of the lost tribes of Israel.

He begins with their departure from Palestine or Judea, then up through Asia, points out their exposures, hardships, and sufferings, also their disputes and quarrels. especially when they built their craft for passing over the Straits. Then after their landing he gave an account of their divisions and subdivisions under different leaders, but two parties controlled the balance. One of them was called the Righteous, worshipers and servants of God. These organized with prophets, priests, and teachers, for the education of their children, and settled down to cultivate the soil, and to a life of civilization. The others were Idolaters. They contended for a life of idleness; in short, a wild, wicked, savage life.They soon quarreled, and then commenced war anew, and continued to fight, except at very short intervals. Sometimes one party was successful and sometimes the other, until finally a terrible battle was fought, which was conclusive. All the Righteous were slain, except one, and he was Chief Prophet and Recorder. He was notified of the defeat in time by Divine authority; told where, when and how to conceal the record, and He would take care that it should be preserved, and brought to light again at the proper time, for the benefit of mankind. So the Recorder professed to do, and then submitted to his fate... in 1830, the book was published at Palmyra, N. Y., called a "New Revelation: the Book of Mormon." This purports to be a history of the lost tribes of the Children of Israel. It begins with them just where the romance did, and it follows the romance very closely. It is true there are some verbal alterations and additions, enlarging the production somewhat, without changing its main features. The Book of Mormon follows the romance too closely to be a stranger. In both, many persons appear having the same name; as Maroni, Mormon, Nephites, Moroni, Lama, Nephe, and others....

05b. Patterson, Robert, Jr.

"Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon" in Boyd Crumrine's History of Washington County, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1882, pp. 425-438.

Patterson reprints part of Abner Jackson's 1881 statement; he also compares the Book of Ether's story to Howe's synopsis: "Here is a threefold resemblance: each is the history of a colony not Jewish transported to this continent; each is recorded on the same number of plates or parchments; each colony seeming to have perished; and each history is hidden in a cave and is long afterwards discovered. That two plots so much alike should originate is nearly about the same time and place in two different minds seems incredible" (p. 430). Patterson's error in the parchment count is due to Howe's having reported "twenty-four" in place of the Oberlin manuscript's "twenty-eight." Given this erroneous number, Patterson compounded the error by attempting to compare Fabius' "rolls" with Ether's "plates."

05c. Smith, Joseph III.

"Letter to Robert Patterson" in the Saints' Herald, Mar. 17, 1883.

RLDS President Smith resurrects Elder Parley P. Pratt's old call to "produce the manuscript ["Manuscript Found"], and print it in juxtaposition with the portions of the Book of Mormon said to have been plagiarized from it, that a faithful comparison of the two might be made." Of course he knew that such a manuscript was not then available, E. D. Howe having guessed that Hurlbut sold the original "Manuscript Found" to the Mormons, and that the story now known as the Oberlin manuscript had been burned in a fire at Howe's office after his publication of Mormonism Unvailed. At about this time, however, President Smith claimed to have experienced a dream or vision of the impending discovery of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript. When that document was subsequently uncovered and brought to Ohio, Smith was instrumental in getting the RLDS permission to publish the text -- so it also could be printed "in juxtaposition with the portions of the Book of Mormon." Since the Oberlin story was not yet available when Smith wrote his 1883 letter, he speculated that the document was withheld from public inspection by non-Mormons: "the mythical romance referred to, suppressed as it has been, has been made to do mysterious duty by those opposed to and at enmity with Joseph Smith and Mormonism, and who have not the honesty to return the manuscript to Mrs. McKinstry, or to publish it themselves, that the infamy of their course may be made plain; or the presumption of the plagiarism fully established."

In the second installment of his letter, President Smith speaks of the Oberlin story, as reported by Howe in 1834, and says: "The statement of Mr. Howe in regard to the manuscript which he received from Mr. Hurlbut, that it was a history of war between hostile tribes of Indians "along the borders of our great lakes," opens ground for the presumption that this was the production read to the family and neighbors of Rev. Spaulding, and accounts for the recollection of the destructive battles fought in the regions of western New York and northern Ohio, of which so much is made as to their similarity to the Book of Mormon." This was the same line of reasoning taken up by James H. Fairchild, after his uncovering of the Oberlin document in Hawaii a few months later. It was also the argument that Mrs. Fawn M. Brodie used in her famed refutation of the Spalding authorship claims. All three writers avoid coming to grips with the testimony of Abner Jackson, whose statement was not solicited or written by D. P. Hurlbut. President Smith reprinted his letter as a pamphlet a few weeks later, under the title: Spaulding Story Re-examined

06. Reynolds, George

"Internal Evidences of the Book of Mormon" in The Juvenile Instructor XVII (1882) pp. 235-238 and 262-263.

Elder Reynolds presents a detailed report of the alleged similarities between the Book of Mormon and Spalding's writings, but these parallels are all derived from the remembered "Manuscript Found." Reynolds does not present any discussion of the Oberlin manuscript, probably because the synopsis offered by Howe was so short and because it was so rarely mentioned in subsequent literature on the subject. Reynolds reprinted his articles a year later in his Myth of the Manuscript Found. In 1885 he was instrumental in getting Joseph F. Smith to investigate the Spalding manuscript discovery in Honolulu, but Reynolds is not known to have subsequently written anything concerning the Oberlin document.

07. Kelley, E. L. & Braden, Clark

Public Discussion of the Issues Between the R.L.D.S. and the Church of Christ (Disciples), St. Louis, 1884.

Rev. Braden's "6th speech" and Elder Kelley's "9th Speech" on Proposition #1 both advance the debaters' respective views regarding alleged textual similarities in the Book of Mormon and Spalding's writings. These remembered parallels are reportedly taken from the lost "Manuscript Found." Braden appears to have viewed the Oberlin manuscript (then known to him only from Howe's 1834 summary) as a sort of rough draft for the later Spalding work mentioned in the various printed statements concerning the remembered parallels. Some of Braden's comments, scattered throughout his speech, reflect upon this possibility.

In his summation for Proposition #1, on pp. 216-17 of the published debate, Braden provides 27 points of similarity between the Book of Mormon and the reported content of Spalding's "Manuscript Found." The list is of limited use, since it does not include anything from the Oberlin text (not yet publicized when Braden published his book). In 1891 Braden and Kelley met for a second round of debates. This time Braden had access to the Oberlin story, but he apparently did not bother to compile any list of its similarities to the Mormon book.

The content of the 1884 "Braden-Kelley Debate," in regard to Spalding-Book of Mormon resemblances, marks something of a watershed break in the ongoing discussion of Book of Mormon origins. At about the same time that printed copies of this debate reached the readers, they were also hearing the first reports of the re-discovery of the Oberlin manuscript. Most knowledgeable subsequent discussion of the topic makes mention of the Spalding romance recovered in Honolulu.


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 2 -

Thematic Similarties List B.

Parallels Mentioned between 1884 and 1885
(From the Re-discovery of the MS Until its First Publication)

08. Bishop, Rev. Sereno E.
"Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found at Honolulu" (report of Dec. 1884, but delayed in publication) in The Independent. Syracuse, New York, Sept. 10, 1885.

The Rev. Bishop, a local friend of Lewis L. Rice in Honolulu, inspects the newly recovered Oberlin manuscript and compares it to the Book of Mormon. He states: "Both devise a number of uncouth names for their characters; both record a series of desperate wars; both narrate a voyage across the Atlantic in ancient times, and a settlement in North America. What other resemblances exist, I'm not prepared to state." Bishop's remarks in regard to the names in the two works being "uncouth" and of the Lehites having crossed the Atlantic are both merely his opinions. And, while the Oberlin manuscript recounts a number of military engagements reminiscent of similar battles in the Book of Mormon, it dose not properly chronicle a "series of desperate wars."

09. Fairchild, James H.

"Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon" in Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan. 1885, pp.173-174.

Rev. Fairchild reportedly inspects the Oberlin manuscript, compares it to the Book of Mormon, and states: "(we) could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or in detail. There seems to be no name or incident common in the two... The only resemblance is in the fact that both profess to set forth the history of lost tribes."

Fairchild came to this dogged conclusion at about the same time that Rev. Bishop was noting the ocean voyage and wars parallels in the two works. Either Fairchild gave the romance a more perfunctory examination than did Bishop, or he had so little knowledge of the Book of Mormon that he was unable to make a detailed comparison. Probably he had his mind made up after giving the manuscript only a cursory inspection in Honolulu. In his 1884 personal journal he says this of the newly discovered document: "I spent an hour in looking it through, It bears no resemblance to the book of Mormon, except that it is a rambling story of about the same literary merit... The book would be a gratification to the Mormons." Fairchild's reputation of being an educated college administrator gave his published statement considerable credibility, in the eyes of Mormons and non-Mormons alike. For the next several decades it was often quoted as providing an expert estimation of there being no significant Spalding-Book of Mormon textual parallels.

10. Rice, Lewis L.

Letter of Jan. 30, 1885 to James H. Fairchild (original in the Fairchild Correspondence files at the Oberlin College Archives.)

Rice inspects the Oberlin manuscript, compares it to the Book of Mormon and states: "I have been looking over the Book of Mormon, and it seems to me incredible that Spalding could have been the author of it. It seems to me more likely that Rigdon got it up, perhaps after seeing this manuscript, and what (is) purported to be the manner in which it was formed -- wherein is the only identity between them, so far as I can see."

Rice, upon a closer inspection of the Oberlin document, comes to about the same conclusion as had Spalding's brother Josiah, years before. He also echoes Braden's implicit message that the Oberlin manuscript somehow supplied a general outline for the Book of Mormon story, though he does not see how Spalding himself could have developed the latter from the former. Rice is vague about his impression that the Book of Mormon resembles the Oberlin manuscript in "the manner in which it was formed." Perhaps he was alluding to the parallels regarding the depositing and eventual discovery of the old records contained in the two sources.

11. Fairchild, James H.

Letter of Feb. 27, 1885 to Joseph Smith III (original in the Joseph Smith III correspondence files, RLDS Library and Archives, Independence, Missouri).

In writing to the President of the RLDS Church, Rev. Fairchild identifies the Oberlin MS as "a long lost manuscript of Solomon Spaulding, which gives an account of Indian tribes... I compared it with the Book of Mormon and could find no trace of identity or even... resemblance."

12. Rice, Lewis L.

Letter of Mar. 28, 1885 to Joseph Smith III (original in the Joseph Smith III correspondence files, RLDS Library and Archives, Independence, Missouri).

Two months after having written to Fairchild regarding this very same matter, Rice writes to Joseph Smith's son and provides us with some explanation of what he meant in telling Fairchild: "the manner in (the Oberlin MS) which it was formed -- wherein is the only identity between them, so far as I can see." Rice tells Smith that the similarity he sees is "in the manner in which each purports to have been found." The old Ohio editor has now defined a parallel between the two works, albeit not a textual one, for the discovery story was missing from the first edition of the Book of Mormon.

Rice must have given the Oberlin manuscript a bit more scrutiny, for he now sees it as something like "a feeble imitation" of the Book of Mormon. Of course, any true "imitation" present in the texts must necessarily have passed from the earlier writing into the later one, and it is generally assumed that Spalding's work predates any rendering of the "Nephite record" into English. A few months later, after studying the subject more closely, Lewis L. Rice decided that the manuscript found in his possession was not the "Manuscript Found," but that missing work did form the basis for the Book of Mormon.

An extract from Rice's letter:
"...this manuscript is not the origin of the Mormon Bible... the only similarity between them is in the manner in which each purports to have been found -- one in a cave on Conneaut Creek -- the other in a hill in Ontario county, New York. There is no identity of names, or persons, or places; and there is no similarity of style between them... It is unlikely that any one who wrote so elaborate a work as the Mormon Bible, would spend his time getting up so shallow a story as this, which at best is but a feeble imitation of the other."

13. Smith, Joseph F., Sr.

Letter to the editor of May 11, 1885, printed in The Deseret Evening News, July 14, 1885.

Smith, a nephew of Joseph Smith, jr. and later President of the LDS Church, reports from Hawaii on the Oberlin manuscript: "...it has been carefully examined and compared with the Book of Mormon... declared without similarity in name, incident, purpose or fact with the Book of Mormon... The only possible resemblance is: they both purport to give an account of American Indians".

Smith's statement, coming from a member of the original Mormon prophet's family and an eye-witness to the contents of the romance discovered in Honolulu, must have carried unusual weight when they were printed in the Church-owned Deseret News. Although Smith was not yet President of the LDS Church, at least some of that denomination's adherents must have interpreted his pronouncement as being something akin to an inspired statement from the highest levels of the Mormon priesthood. However, even at this early date, the future leader of the Mormons was already admitting a vague "possible resemblance" between the two works.

14. Kelley, William H.

Letter to W. W. Blair of July 23, 1885 (original in the RLDS Library and Archives, Independence, Missouri).

Kelley reads the Oberlin manuscript and reports: "...to think that for years we have been confronted with this old humbug manuscript as being the root from which the Book of Mormon grew: the egg from which it was hatched; or to put it in Darwinian style, this was the monkey and the Book of Mormon the man. But if the latter were true, there would be an endless number of missing links lying between the two."

Kelley's evident good feelings must have reflected the happy relief of a good many Latter Day Saints, who at last could say that the Spalding novel was not the basis for the Book of Mormon. However, Kelley adds what he sees as a very improbable possibility to his initial statement of dissimilarity between the two works. He ironically presents the same thesis which would later be picked up and expanded by the anti-Mormon critics of his church and the Utah Mormons. If somehow, some part of the Book of Mormon had been derived from Spalding's writings, Kelley can only see it as having come about through and infinite series of textual evolution. Several subsequent writers on this very topic would picture the imaginary process as being a real one and a much shorter one than Kelley speaks of here.

15. Hyde, Charles M.

"Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" in The Congregationalist, Boston, MA, July 30, 1885.

Hyde compares the Oberlin manuscript with the Book of Mormon and states: "The story has not the slightest resemblance in names, incidents or style to anything in the Book of Mormon." Hyde's statement, like that of Fairchild, came from a respected non-Mormon and was probably received as disinterested, informed reporting. Printed statements such as these did much to influence public opinion to favor the original Mormon position that Spalding's writings had nothing whatsoever in common with their sacred book.

16. Blair, W. W. (editor, if not the original reporter)

"Solomon Spalding's 'Manuscript Found'" in The Saints' Herald, Aug. 8, 1885.

This article in the official magazine of the RLDS Church, would set the tone for many future reports: The MS discovered in Honolulu is the same "Manuscript Found" remembered by Spalding's old associates. It is not the Book of Mormon, or even a partial duplication of that sacred book's contents. Therefore the matter is settled. Once this "party-line" had been mouthed, the Herald writer and subsequent reporters could concede a few feeble resemblances between the two works and blame the faulty memories or misguided efforts of people who had testified that Spalding had written something like the original text for the Book of Mormon.

An extract from the article:
While it is true that there is some similarity in the sound of some of the names found in these two writings (the Oberlin MS and the Book of Mormon) the spelling of such names is widely different, as is also their meaning, thus proving they could not have had a common origin. And the subject matter of them is as different...

17. Blair, W. W. (editor, if not the original reporter)

"The Manuscript Found" in The Saints' Herald, Aug. 15, 1885.

Taking up the same subject from the previous number of the Herald, Blair continues to identify the Oberlin MS as the "Manuscript Found." The RLDS Church had just printed a transcript of the Oberlin MS and entitled its edition (predictably) The Manuscript Found... This textual identification polemic, coupled with some very coarse language, provides us with a stereotype for numerous future "faith-promoting" articles and statements penned by elders in both the Missouri and Utah "Mormon" churches.

An extract from the article:
"...we take pleasure in exhibiting... this hob-goblin of the pulpit (the Oberlin MS), this 'nigger-in the-woodpile' of the press... for when it speaks it reveals the... falsity of the claim that it was in any way or in any sense the origin of the (Book of Mormon)... or that there is the least likeliness between the two".


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 3 -

Thematic Similarties List C.

Parallels Mentioned between 1885 and 1886
(Immediately Following the First MS Publication)

18. Penrose, Charles (editor, if not the original reporter)

"Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript" in The Deseret Evening News, Dec. 4, 1885.

"...a positive and certain proof that the Book of Mormon and Solomon Spaulding or his story have no more connection than the Bible has with Ali Baba... there is not the slightest connection between the two books and no similarity whatever in matter, purpose, narrative, names, language, style or anything else".

19. Editor or staff writer for the Deseret News

Spalding, Solomon. The 'Manuscript Found,' Manuscript Story, Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1886.

With the LDS Church in Utah following the example set by the RLDS during the previous year, the world now had two published editions of Spalding's unfinished romance, both of which were emblazoned with the title: "Manuscript Found." Even those careful scholars of later times who endeavored to separate remembered testimony from textual fact have been burdened with having to account for this title on the two printings of Spalding's romance.

Publisher's Preface (p. iii):
After carefully perusing both books, we believe we can truthfully assert that there is not one sentence, one incident, or one proper name common to both, and that the oft boasted similarity in matter and nomenclature is utterly false. No two books could be more unalike...

20. Fairchild, James H.

"Mormonism and the Spaulding Manuscript" in Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan. 1886.

Either Fairchild went back and took a second look at the Oberlin MS (which was now housed in his college archives) or he noticed that some other reporters had mentioned general similarities between it and the Book of Mormon. He must also have read Howe's book or some later reprinting of its allegation that certain old associates of Spalding had identified him as the author of the Mormon book upon hearing portions of that scripture read aloud in Conneaut, Ohio.

At this point Fairchild is ready to see a "general resemblance" where before he had seen no resemblance at all. He blunts the effect of this minor evolution in his opinion by equating the Oberlin romance with the remembered "Manuscript Found." Having made this identification he placed himself squarely in the same camp as the RLDS and LDS apologists.

An extract from Fairchild's article (pp. 167-174):
The manuscript fails to meet the traditional requirements of the Manuscript Found in that there is not a name or incident in it which is found in the Book of Mormon... Yet, from a general resemblance, the manuscript and the Book of Mormon might suggest each other, and it is conceivable that one who heard the manuscript twenty years before should be reminded of it on hearing the Book of Mormon

21. Gibson, George Rutledge

"The Origin of a Great Delusion" in The New Princeton Review, July-Sept., 1886, pp. 203-222.

Gibson compares the first chapter of the Oberlin MS to the Book of Mormon and immediately sees a few of the more obvious parallels: "This might be recalled by Smith's story of finding his record 'hid up' in the hill Cumorah, the difference being one is written on parchment while the other was engraved on gold plates." Following this non-textual observance Gibson goes on to relate the story of the stormy ocean crossing in the Oberlin MS. He finds a textual parallel in the two accounts at this point: "The Book of Mormon also relates a voyage to our shores... In most instances the local names introduced in this manuscript are unlike those of the Book of Mormon... there are some, however, that suggest one another."

22. Fairchild, James H.

Manuscript of Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon, Tract No. 77, Western Reserve Historical Society, 1886.

In this, the third and most lengthy of his articles on the subject, Fairchild has evolved his previously observed "general resemblance" of the two texts to one of seeing a resemblance in their "general features." Here he also adds a vague reference to the external resemblances in the accounts of the discovery and coming forth of both works. We remember that Fairchild had at first seen no resemblance at all.

Although he never states the fact in so many words, it seems that each time he looks at the document in his possession he finds a bit more resemblance between it and the Book of Mormon. Still, he has no reason to catalog these similarities or investigate them further, because he has already stated publicly that the Oberlin manuscript is the "Manuscript Found." This identification implies that most, if not all, of the old memories recorded in numerous statements pertaining to resemblances are falsehoods or exaggerations.

An extract from Fairchild's article: (pp. 187-220)

The manuscript bears no resemblance to the 'Book of Mormon' except in some very general features. There is not a name or an incident common to the two... In its more general features the present manuscript fulfills the requirements of the 'Manuscript'... These general features would naturally bring it to remembrance, on reading the account of the finding of the plates of the 'Book of Mormon.'


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 4 -

Thematic Similarties List D.

Parallels Mentioned between 1887 and 1901
(From Publication of the MS Until Schroeder's List)

23. Traughber, J. L., Jr.

Letter of March 28, 1887 to James H. Fairchild (original in the Fairchild Correspondence files at the Oberlin College Archives.)

Mr. Traughber is otherwise known for writing newspaper articles or letters to the editor in regard to various points of Mormon history, especially for the period when the Saints were in Missouri (he corresponded with William E. McLellin on this topic). It is not known whether J. L. Traughber ever followed up on the idea expressed to Fairchild, but possibly he mentioned it in one of his newspaper pieces. The Oberlin College President apparently never answered the man's letter. Mr. Traughber says:

"I intend to prepare a few pages of the Oberlin Manuscript. I call that Ms the original germ cell of Mormonism... I don't see how any one can read Spaulding's unfinished story and its quaint introduction, without believing that Smith's story of plates and their wonderful contents was borrowed from Spaulding. Even Smith's wonderful... 'peep-stone' seems to be suggested by Spaulding..."
24. Whitsitt, William H.

"Mormonism" in S. M. Jackson's Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, 1891
(A summary of "Sidney Rigdon, the Real Founder of Mormonism")

The inclusion of Dr. Whitsitt's writings on the origin of the Book of Mormon in this bibliography of sources relating thematic similarities is admittedly something of an anomaly. Whitsitt's 1891 "Mormonism" article barely touches on the Oberlin Spalding MS. His larger, unpublished biography of Sidney Rigdon from whence the 1891 article's information was drawn is likewise very constrained in its discussion of the Oberlin MS. On more than one occasion Whitsitt candidly admitted that he would have rather not had to include the Spalding Authorship Theory in his writings at all. However, this trained theologian and professor of church history has offered practically the only detailed exposition on how an alleged Spalding pseudo-history might possibly have been expanded and reconstituted to produce the Book of Mormon.

Whitsitt's failure to delve into Book of Mormon parallels in the Oberlin MS is probably best explained by the fact that he had nearly completed his Sidney Rigdon biography when the Spalding story discovered in Honolulu was announced to the world. By the time he actually was able to read the Oberlin romance himself, he had already completed his work on Mormonism and his attention was distracted by pressing problems in his professional life. It is thus somewhat ironic that the one investigator who possessed the training and inclination to conduct Book of Mormon form and source critical analysis was unable to devote any detailed study to the text of the Oberlin manuscript.

The few thematic parallels Whitsitt paid any attention to lie in the general makeup and development of the Book of Mormon story line, set alongside those of the Book of Ether and the Oberlin Spalding manuscript. Whitsitt felt he could detect a pattern of evolution from the Roman story, through the Jaredite story, and into the Lehite story. Without having the Oberlin document in hand during most of his investigations, however, Whitsitt did not take the trouble to construct any detailed explanation of this idea.

An extract from Whitsitt (pp. 17-18)
The question may now be raised as to who was the editor of the Book of Mormon. That point can be settled in no other way than by means of a critical examination of the doctrinal contents of the work... the editor was a divine of the Disciples persuasion. In its theological positions and coloring, the Book of Mormon is a volume of Disciple theology... the Book of Mormon bears traces of two several redactions. It contains in the first redaction that type of doctrine which the Disciples held and proclaimed prior to Nov. 18, 1827, when they had not yet formally embraced what is commonly considered to be the tenet of baptismal remission, a term, it should be remarked, repudiated by the Disciples. It also contains the type of doctrine which the Disciples have been defending since Nov. 18, 1827 under the name of the Ancient Gospel, of which the tenet of so-called baptismal remission is a leading feature.

...Whatever may be true in relation to Solomon Spaulding, the conclusion is inexpugnable that Mr. Rigdon had in his possession the manuscript of the Book of Mormon before it was delivered to Joseph Smith. To suppose that Joseph Smith, whose antecedents were Methodistic, and who at this period had no acquaintance with the Disciples or their sentiments, could have given the work the special theological coloring that it displays, would have been unreasonable. Though none of the actors in the Mormon drama has chosen to reveal the secrets of Rigdon's initiative, the Book of Mormon points to him on almost every page. Its testimony cannot be concealed or denied.

Nevertheless a measure of truth may be conceded to the stories that are reported concerning Spaulding. Criticism must allow that blunders are found in those stories, and that they cannot be accepted in all their details. For example, it is incorrect to affirm that Spaulding wrote only one Manuscript Found; that was likely a generic title for all his literary effusions. The first writing that he produced under that title is believed to be the document that several years since was recovered in Honolulu.

The second of his Manuscripts Found is suspected to have been the Book of Ether, and the third the Book of Mormon. It is affirmed that he continued to drivel a Manuscript Found even after he had quitted Pittsburgh and retired to Amity, Pa., where his death befell in the year 1816.

It is also a fable which represents that Mr. Rigdon was ever a printer in Pittsburgh. Most probably he obtained the Manuscript Found from the printing office of Butler and Lambdin upon the occasion of their failure in business, a number of years after Spaulding had deposited it with Patterson & Lambdin, who had been their predecessors. He may have purchased it for a mere trifle at their enforced sale or, it may have been presented by Mr. Lambdin, who would be pleased to get rid of a bundle of useless rubbish.

25. Whitney, Orson F.

History of Utah Vol. I. Salt Lake City, 1892, pp. 37-56.

Whitney presents a side-by-side listing of representative excerpts from both texts and has this to say: "It (the Oberlin MS) contains perhaps a tenth as much reading matter as the Book of Mormon, and unlike that record is written in modern style. None of the proper names, and few if any of the incidents are similar to those in the Nephite narrative."

While Whitney was able to find similarities in "few if any" of the stories included in the two texts, his printing of side-by-side excerpts from the two works was a notable experiment. We can only regret that the excerpts from the texts that he placed in juxtaposition were not better chosen to illustrate some of the textual elements common to both accounts.

26. Editor or staff writer, Cleveland Recorder

"About the Book of Mormon" in the Cleveland Recorder, May 18, 1897.

By this late date the message that the Spalding MS discovered in Honolulu discovery bore no significant resemblance to the Book of Mormon had been spread far and wide. Secondary and tertiary statements relying on Fairchild or the Latter Day Saint apologists were printed everywhere. It is doubtful whether the writers of the majority of these boilerplate statements ever even took the trouble to examine the texts at all. What follows is just one of dozens of similar statements that were published around the turn of the century. The article says:

"The Mormons, in collaboration with President Fairchild have published the 'Manuscript Found.' There is not the least resemblance between that and the Book of Mormon. There is not a line or expression in the one book that is even similar to the other."

27. Smith, Joseph F., Sr.

"The Manuscript Found" Part III, Improvement Era, April, 1900. pp. 451-457.

As mentioned previously (in item 13 above) Joseph F. Smith, sr. was the first LDS leader to learn of the Honolulu discovery and report the happy news to the Saints in Utah that "...it has been carefully examined and compared with the Book of Mormon... declared without similarity in name, incident, purpose or fact with the Book of Mormon... The only possible resemblance is: they both purport to give an account of American Indians."

Fifteen years later this nephew of Joseph Smith, Jr. was an even more honored and respected member of the Salt Lake City Mormon establishment. It is safe to say that once the LDS members read his articles on Spalding in the official church magazine, all debate on the subject ceased. By now there was no doubt in any loyal Mormon's mind that the Spalding issue had been fully solved and that whatever nonsense the old clergyman might have scripted, it certainly had nothing to do with the "Nephite record."

An extract from President Smith's article (pp. 454-457):
...there is not one word in the 'Manuscript,' bearing any similarity or likeness to the Book of Mormon... the historical portions of the Book of Mormon are not derived from Spaulding's writings... it contains neither names nor subject matter that resemble anything within the pages of the Book of Mormon

28. Schroeder, A. Theodore

The Origin of The Book of Mormon Reexamined... Salt Lake City, 1901.

A. Theodore Schroeder opened the twentieth century discussion of the Spalding Authorship Theory with his seminal work on Book of Mormon origins. Although first presented in the form of a rather unimpressive ministerial tract for distribution among the Protestants and curious Mormons of Salt Lake City, the meat of Schroeder's semi-scholarly effort was interesting and innovative enough to be selected for republication in the prestigious American Historical Magazine a few years later.

With Schroeder's publication the seldom-mentioned similarities between the texts of the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon were finally brought back to the public's attention in a way that took hold of readers' imaginations. Although Schroeder offered no real proof of the supposed evolution of the Book of Mormon from the Oberlin manuscript, he had at last concisely elucidated the same possibility that William H. Kelley had found so unlikely back in 1885.

Extract from Schroeder, (pp. 4-6)
In Spaulding's first writing of his manuscript story, he pretended to find a roll of parchment in a stone box within a cave... an account of a party of Roman sea voyagers, who... were by storms drifted ashore on the American continent. One of their number left this record of their travels, of Indian wars and customs, which record Spaulding pretends to have found and to translate. How that resembles a synopsis of the Book of Mormon!

...the rewritten story did constitute the foundation of the Book of Mormon... we are astonished at the number of similarities... the finding of the story in a stone box, its translation into English, the attempt to account for a portion of the population of this continent, the wars of extermination of two factions, the impossible slaughters of primitive warfare, and the physically impossible armies which were gathered together without modern facilities of either transportation or the furnishing of supplies -- the fact that after two rewritings... there should remain these very unusual features, makes the discovery and publication of this first manuscript only an additional evidence that the second one did furnish the basis of the Book of Mormon.


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 5 -

Thematic Similarties List E.

Parallels Mentioned between 1902 and 1909
(From Mahaffey's List to B. H. Roberts' Rebuttal)

29. Mahaffey, J. E.

Found at Last! "Positive Proof" that Mormonism is a Fraud... Augusta, Georgia, 1902

Following the publication of Schroeder's work in 1901 a number of writers began taking a renewed interest in the Oberlin manuscript. J. E. Mahaffey's listing of Spalding MS-Book of Mormon parallels probably appeared too early to have been inspired solely by the Salt Lake City clergyman. His list contents do, however, paraphrase and supplement Schroeder's findings. Unfortunately, almost as soon as investigators like Mahaffey began to compile extensive lists of parallels they also began to inject their own over-generalizations and forced matches into those lists. Where an objective textual investigator might see only hints of similarity Mahaffey sees "identical" incidents and descriptions. Some of his discoveries and expansions of Schroeder's findings appear to be a bit less subjective however, and he does present several solid textual parallels.

J. E. Mahaffey appears to have been the first writer to assemble something like a comprehensive list of Oberlin manuscript-Book of Mormon parallels. He came up with twenty-one similarities, some of which contain multiple sub-parallels. Although Mahaffey is considered an obscure and minor source for research in Mormon history today, his book and Schroeder's work the year before were probably largely responsible for the renewed interest in the Oberlin manuscript apparent in the writings of subsequent reporters.

Mormon response to Mahaffey's publication of the 21 parallels was understandably unfriendly. Elder W. E. La Rue, writing for the RLDS Zion's Ensign of Nov. 27, 1902 admitted that "There are points of identity between most every book in existence, as there may be between the Spalding Romance and the Book of Mormon," which was not much of an admission at all. La Rue accused Mahaffey of copying most of his parallels from Clark Braden's 1884 comparison of the "Manuscript Found's" reported features with the Mormon book, but Braden composed his list of 27 similarities when the Oberlin manuscript was not yet available for study. His list was something different from what Mahaffey constructed 18 years later, with a copy of Spalding's text in front of him. For an equally unappreciative review of Mahaffey's efforts, see the Oct. 15, 1902 issue of the Saints' Herald.

Extract from Mahaffey (pp. 50-54).
The Oberlin MS is the first crude outline of the story written by Spaulding, and was probably never exhibited to anyone by him. The wonder is... the romance contains so many points of detailed identity with the final copy... the following are some items of similarity and identity...

1. the general plot of the stories is the same,

2. both pretend to be translations of records found buried in the earth,

3. both records pretend to be abridgments of older and more elaborate records,

4. both records trace the ancestry of the American Indians from the Old World, and give tragic accounts of their providential passage over the sea to the American continent,

5. both stories pretend to give a history of the settlements; the rise and fall of nations; the terrible wars, bloodshed, death and carnage that followed,

6.both stories are interspersed with occasional outbreakings of appeal and exhortations on questions of morality and religion,

7. both stories cater to the use of the little transparent stone through which sights could be seen, hidden treasures discovered, and ancient writings translated,

8. both stories contain the same account of one army contending in battle...,

9. both stories contain an account of a most disastrous war caused by the people of one nation stealing the daughters of another nation,

10. both stories contain accounts of the discovery of other nations who had preceded them to America; that some of them were in a savage state; but were soon educated and restored to civilization,

11. both stories contain a marvelous account of wonders wrought by one army while the other was lying asleep in the camp after a night of revelry,

12. both stories portray similar characters of prominent leaders and teachers who were believed to hold converse with celestial beings and whose teachings were said to be divinely revealed, or inspired,

13. both stories contain an account of a battle in which, by stratagem, one army was divided up into four parts... and gained a glorious victory,

14. both stories are characterized by the same tale of a "sacred roll" believed to have been of divine origin, and which formed the basis of religious belief and teaching,

15. both stories contain individual plots of stratagem, which are identical in motive, methods and results,

16. both stories give an outline for plans of government, also the invention and coinage of money in its various denominations, uses, etc.

17. both stories attribute times of peace and prosperity to fidelity in religious matters, and the retrograde in these respects to a neglect of religion,

18. both stories, in portraying the extermination of the two great factions, describe the gathering of armies and slaughters, which were a physical impossibility to a people without modern methods for the transportration of troops and army supplies

19. the literary style of the "plates"... is identical with the literary style of a people discovered and described in the Spaulding romance...

20. the religious code in the Spalding romance teaches poligamy outright, while the Book of Mormon evasively leaves the matter open for some future time...

21. many of the places, and positions of nations and armies are geographically identical in both stories

30. Editor or staff writer, Columbia Globe-Democrat

"Book of Mormon Proved a Fraud," in the Globe-Democrat, Sept. 29, 1902.

The following article appears to follow Mahaffey's lead in most of its points of similarity between the two records. The writer does add a bit of new wording here and there, so he or she may have consulted the Oberlin MS and the Book of Mormon directly in addition to just paraphrasing Mahaffey.

An extract from the Globe-Democrat article:
A careful examination of the two documents (the Oberlin MS and the Book of Mormon) shows more than twenty features of perfect identity... both stories pretend to be translations or abridgements of older and more elaborate records found buried in the earth. Both stories trace the ancestry of the American Indians from the Old World and give tragic accounts of their providential passage across the ocean to the American continent; their settlements; the rise and fall of nations; their political divisions; terrible wars etc.

Both stories cater to the use of the same transparent stone through which sights could be seen, hidden treasures... Both stories are characterized by the same tale of a sacred roll which was believed to have been of divine origin and which formed the basis of religious belief and teaching.

Both stories contain accounts of the discovery of other nations who had preceded them to the American continent... some of these other nations were in a savage state but were soon educated and restored to civilization... The hieroglyphs of the 'plates'... are identical with the literary style of a people described in the Spaulding romance."

31. Evans, John H.

One Hundred Years of Mormonism, Salt Lake City, 1905.

Although Evans nowhere admits as much, his own investigation of the Oberlin manuscript-Book of Mormon similarities was evidently prompted, at least in part, by the previous reporting offered by Schroeder and Mahaffey. In the first published admission by a Mormon apologist, Evans concedes: "While it must be admitted, there are some general resemblances between this work (the Oberlin MS) and the Book of Mormon, both in content and in external details, still, candor will force... the admission that the differences between the two works are so great as forever to preclude the possibility of any connection between them. Both the Manuscript Story and the Nephite Record claim to be translations..."

Evans offers along with this remarkable statement a fair summary of the Oberlin manuscript story on pages 101-102 of his book, indicating that he had taken the trouble to read Spalding rather carefully. This admission of similarities did not come as an official statement published in an organ of the LDS or RLDS churches. But the fact that it was published at all, and that it was not subsequently criticized in these church periodicals, gives some indication that knowledgeable leaders in both divisions of the restoration movement had resigned themselves to admitting at least some superficial similarities in Spalding and the "Nephite" writers.

32. Smith, Joseph III

Letter of Apr, 21, 1908 to George B. Noyes (original in the LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City).

The President of the RLDS Church writes to a Utah Mormon: "... we had the opportunity of running the Spaulding story origin down, procuring the manuscript... and found it to be utterly inadequate to form a basis for the claim made with reference to the Solomon Spaulding story". While Smith does not overtly say that he accepts the fact of there being some resemblance between the two stories, neither does he use any non-resemblance argument to bolster his conclusion that the Oberlin manuscript was "utterly inadequate" to provide a genesis for the Book of Mormon. This limited window into Smith's thinking may also provide an analog for what LDS leaders were thinking at about this same time. The general feeling among restoration leaders must have been that the Oberlin manuscript was nowhere near close enough in its resemblance to the Book of Mormon to present any threat to the traditional claims for divine inspiration and miraculous translation.

33a. Roberts, B. H.

"The Origin of the Book of Mormon" Part I in American Historical Magazine III:5 (Sep. 1908) pp. 441-468.

Mormon Historian B. H. Roberts was one General Authority in the Utah Church who took note of A. Theodore Schroeder's various allegations concerning Mormonism, including his statements that the text of the "Mormon Bible" had been derived from the writings of Solomon Spalding. Roberts and Schroeder conducted a running debate on these matters, in books, pamphlets, and in the pages of the American Historical Magazine. Roberts own published statements reflect the same general trend in Mormon apologetics voiced by Evans a few years earlier. That is, to admit some general similarities between the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon, but to quickly follow such admissions with logical arguments showing how the latter text could have never been derived from the former one.

Roberts is quick to admit the external similarities in the accounts of the coming forth of both texts. In doing this he gives the appearance of maintaining his objectivity, while at the same time he diverts the readers' attention away from the contents of the texts themselves. In a strategy that would be emulated nearly seventy years later by Dialogue writer Lester Bush, Roberts uses these external similarities to help account for the fact that some people in the 1830's were reminded of Spalding's story-telling after hearing passages read from the Book of Mormon. While this argument may have some merit, it was the wording of the Spalding text(s) that people reported remembering, not just the story of the discovery of an ancient, buried record. The contents of Josiah Spalding's letter of Jan. 6, 1855 demonstrate just how accurate these well-preserved personal memories could be, even after the passage of several decades.

An extract from Roberts (p. 463)
There is enough in the fact that Solomon Spaulding had written a story connected in some way with a manuscript which he feigned to have found in a stone box in a cave; which he further feigned to have translated into English; and which story had something to do with a colony coming in ancient times from the Old World to the New; and that there were great and sanquine wars in the story -- to suggest a similarity with the Book of Mormon.

With so much as a basis it will go hard with human invention... if out of the dim recollections... it cannot "remember" that there was a similarity between Spalding's writings and the Book of Mormon.

33b. Roberts, B. H.

"The Origin of the Book of Mormon" Part IV in American Historical Magazine IV:2 (Mar. 1909) pp. 168-196.

Having conceded the fact of there being some vague resemblance between the Oberlin MS and the Book of Mormon, both in their general story themes and in the two accounts of the texts being discovered and translated, Roberts proceeds to show how this resemblance is only coincidental. His main argument in demonstrating that the two works are in no way connected is to show that they contain no common name, incident, idea, or style of writing.

In writing his brilliant defenses of the Book of Mormon (here and elsewhere) Roberts bought several years' of breathing space for the Mormon apologists. His admission and trivialization of the similarities between that book and the known writings of Solomon Spalding undercut the arguments of anti-Mormons that, because of all the similarities, the Saints' scripture must have come from Spalding.

In his speaking of our not being able "to detect Spauldingisms" in the Book of Mormon Roberts appears to be issuing something of a challenge to future investigators. If they are able to identify such "Spauldingisms," perhaps there is some substance to the claims for a connection between the two records; if they are unable to detect such wordprints of common authorship, the matter has been settled in Roberts' favor. Knowing that Roberts was particularly astute in being able to detect common elements in two different texts, we are left to wonder whether he saw at least some textual parallels here, in much the same way as he saw textual parallels in Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews. If so, perhaps Roberts realized that one day his statement might be challenged by an extensive reporting of just such "Spauldingisms" in certain parts of the Book of Mormon text.

An extract from Roberts (191-196)
(In) this manuscript of Spaulding's... there is no incident, or name or set of ideas common to the two productions... I am sure that no person, having any literary judgment, will think it possible for the author of "Manuscript Found" to be the author of the Book of Mormon... if this manuscript of his was used either as the foundation or the complete work of the Book of Mormon, we should be able to detect Spauldingisms in it; identity of style would be apparent; but these things are entirely absent from every page of the Book of Mormon.

34. Hooton, A. O.

"Spalding vs. Smith" in Sword of Laban I:12 (July 1909)

A. O. Hooton's list of 19 parallels between the Book of Mormon and the Oberlin manuscript was perhaps the first noteworthy compilation of such similarities ever published. It is possible that Hooton received some help from the Rev. J. E. Mahaffey in compiling his list -- at least Mahaffey had offered his assistance in the previous issue of the Sword of Laban and he had some time to contemplate what might go into such tabulations, since publishing his own list in 1902. In 1914 Charles A. Shook published a condensed version of Hooton's list, in his book, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon.

An extract from Hooton's article:
1. Each of the "records" was covered with a "stone."
Spalding says:

Near the west bank of the Conneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the characterization and numbers of those people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and inginuity, I hap'ned to tread on a flat stone. -- Man. Story p. 11.
Joseph says:

On the west side of this hill, (Cumorah) not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size lay the plates deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges... -- His. L.D.S. p. 13.

2. Each of them raised the "stone" with a "lever."
With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone. But you may easily conjecture my astonishment when I discovered that its ends and sides rested on stones and that it was designed as a cover to an artificial Cave * * * Observing one side to be perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom * * * a big flat stone fixed in the form of a door. I immediately tore it down * * * found an earthen box * * * when I had removed the cover I found that * * * twenty-eight rolls of parchment -- M.S. p. 11-12. Having removed the earth and obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the Breastplate, as stated by the messenger -- His. L.D.S. p. 16.

3. Each translated only a part of the "records."
To publish a translation of every particular circumstance mentioned by our author would produce a volume too expensive for the general class of readers. But should this attempt * * * meet the approbation of the public, I shall then be happy to gratify the more inquisitive and learned part of my readers by a more minute publication. -- M.S. p. 13. Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work. Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee * * * then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men. ... -- II Nephi 11-18.

4. Each of the "records" states that storms arose while parties were on the ocean.
The vessel * * * had now arrived near the coast of Britain when a tremendous storm arose and drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean -- M.S. p. 15. And it came to pass that after they had bound me, insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work; wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest ... -- I Nephi 5:38.

5. Each of the "records" states that after prayer the storm did cease.
Then it was that we felt our absolute dependence on that Almighty and gracious Being who holds the winds & floods in - - - hands. * * * Prostrate and on bended nees we poured forth incessant supplication and even Old Ocean appeared to sympathize in our distress by returning the echo of our vociferos cries and lamentations. * * * On the sixth day after, the storm wholly subsided... -- M.S. p. 15. And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm. -- I Nephi 5:42.

6. Each "record" states that the parties found horses on their arrival in America.
The ground was plowed by horses M.S. p. 37 .

The horses were managed in the same way & the people tho't their meat to be a savoury dish. M.S. p. 38.
And it came to pass that we did find * * * that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse ... -- I Nephi 5:45.

7. Each of the "records" states that burnt offerings were offered for sin.
Look steadfastly on the black dogs and let not your eyes be turned away, when they are thrown on the sacred pile and the flames are furiously consuming their bodies, then let your earnest prayer assend for pardon and your transgressions will flee away like shadows and your sins will be carried by the smoke into the shades of oblivion. -- M. S. p. 25. And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses; and also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem ... -- Mos. 1:5.

8. Each of the "records" states that Judges were appointed to rule over the people.
Having secured all our property, we then found it necessary to establish some regulations for the government of our little society. The Captain whose name was Lucian and myself were appointed Judges in all matters of controversy and managers of the public property to make bargains with the natives... -- M.S. p. 19. And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land. And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, -- Mos. 1:5.

9. Each of the "records" states that there were three different peoples in this land.
1. White people who came from Rome, -- M. S. p. 15.

2. The copper-colored Delewans. -- p. 22, 23.

3. The olive-colored Ohons. -- p. 36.
1. Nephites from Jerusalem -- I Nephi 5:4.

2. People of Zarahemla. -- Mos. 11:8.

3. Jaredites from the [tower]. -- Ether 3:3.

10. Each of the "records" refers to the motion of the planets,
This scheme will represent the solar system as displaying the transcendant wisdom of its Almighty architect, for in this we behold the Sun suspended by Omnipotence and all the planets moving round him as their common center in exact order and harmony. -- M.S. p. 30. The scriptures are laid before thee, you in all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth and all things that are upon it, yea, and its motion, yes, and also the planets which move in their regular form, doth witness that there is a Supreme Creator ... -- Alma 16:7.

11. Each of the "records" states that caractors were used to represent words.
They had characters which represent words and all compound words had each part represented by its appropriate character -- M.S. p. 42. And now behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge of the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, ... -- Mormon 4:8.

12. Each of the "records" states that sacred writings were kept separate from other records.
In all their large towns and cities they have deposited under the care of a priest a sacred Roll which contains the tenets of their Theology and a description of their religious ceremonies. -- M.S. p. 43. Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people. Upon the other plates should be engraven an account of the reign of the kings, and the wars and contentions of my people -- 1 Nephi 2:28.

13. Each of the isms received the word of man as divine.
Under the pretense that this system was revealed to him in several interviews which he had been permitted to have with the second son of the great and good Being, the people did not long hesitate, but received as sacred and divine truth every word which he taught them. -- M.S. p. 55. Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all all holiness before me; for his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith, for by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you... -- D. & C. 19:2 Lamoni Ed.

14. Each of the isms teaches sinners will be saved after death.
But the wicked are denied ethereal bodies. Their souls naked and incapable of seeing light, dwel in darkness and are tormented with the keenest anguish. Ages roll away and the good Being has compassion upon them. He permits them to take possession of ethereal bodies and they arise quick to the abodes of delight and glory. -- M.S. p. 47. And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus, these are they who deny not the holy spirit. These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed from the Devil until the last resurrection ... -- D. & C. 76:7

15. Each of the isms requires an oracle.
He still continued his useful Labors and was considered the great Oracle of both Empires. His advice and sentiments were taken upon all important subjects and no one ventured to controvert his opinions. -- M.S. p. 69. Verily I say unto you the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come, nevertheless, though you shall the oracles be given, yea, even unto the church. -- D. & C. 87-2.

16. Each of the isms must have counselors.
At the head of this Empire shall be placed, with the title of Emperor, Labamack the oldest son of Lobaska. The office shall be hereditary in the eldest male of his family * * * He shall have four counsellors. -- M.S. p. 65. I give unto you my servant Joseph, to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer and prophet. I give unto him for counselors my servant Sidney Rigdon and my servant William Law ... -- D. & C. 107:39

17. Each of the "records" refers to the same plan of constructing fortifications.
The ramparts or walls were formed of dirt which was taken in front of the fort. A deep canal or trench would likewise be formed. This would still increase the difficulty of surmounting the walls in front. In addition to this they inserted sticks pieces of Timber on the top of the Ramparts. These pieces were about seven feet in length from the ground to top, which was sharpened. -- M.S. p. 80. ... Moroni * * * caused that his armies should commence * * * digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities * * * and upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about. -- Alma 22:1.

18. Each of the "records" states that property was held in common.
Our community might be said to be one family, tho' we lived in seperate houses situate near each other. The property was common stock; what was produced by our labor was likewise to be common. -- M.S. p. 21. ... and they had all things in common among them, therefore there were no rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift ... -- IV Nephi 1:2

19. Each of the "records" mentions miraculous means of obtaining knowledge; one by a "stone," the other by the "interpreters."
Hamack then arose and in his hand he held a stone which he pronounced transparent. Through this he could view things present and things to come, could behold the dark intrigues and cabals of foreign courts, and discover hidden treasures secluded from the eyes of other mortals. He could behold the galant and his mistress in their bed-chamber, account all their moles warts and pimples. Such was the clearness of his sight, when this transparent stone was placed before his eyes. -- M.S. p. 107. ... now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters * * * and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known. -- Mos. 5:10

Reader, you have been shown nineteen points of identity between the "Manuscript Story" of Solomon Spalding, and the system of religion (?) as promulgated by the self-styled prophet of God, Joseph Smith. Can you believe the Mormon story that there is no "likeness" between them?

Solomon and Joseph, they each found a "record,"
  And each of the "records," was very, very old.
Solomon's was in "Latin," and written on "parchment,"
  Joseph's "Reformed Egyptian," "engraved" on "plates" of "gold."

'Twas just under a "stone," which he raised by a "lever,"
  That each found his "record," each dry, safe and sound.
Solomon's in a "box," in a cave "artificial,"
  Joseph's in a "box," near the surface of the ground.

Of each of the "records," only part was "translated,"
  Each one gave his reasons, why, a part was reserved.
Solomon's was a novel, while Joseph's was "more bible,"
  For many centuries, hidden miraculously preserved.

The "record" each tell us, while parties crossed the ocean
  Tremendous storms arose, surging billows everywhere,
Yet all were safely landed, and not one life was lost,
  They were saved from destruction, in answer to prayer.

Each "record" mentions horses, that were found upon the land,
  "Burnt offerings" people offered, to cleanse them from all sin.
Judges were appointed, that justice might be done,
  And different peoples three, this land were dwelling in.

Each "translator" must have "planets" that move in regular form,
  And "Oracles" their words received, as coming from above.
"Sacred" writings kept separate, and "characters" used for words,
  The wicked punished for awhile, then saved by redeeming love.

Each builds his forts of "earth" thrown up with timbers placed on top,
  Has property held in "common," and counselors four or two.
Has a man whose words, accepted, as coming from above,
  Just so he calls it "revelation," that's enough to them 'tis true.

But the thing that was dearest, to each "translator's" heart,
  Was the magical "interpreters" or "transparent stone" so clear;
With them nothing could be hidden, all things came to view,
  Moles and pimples, warts and wrinkles, all things far and near.

There's no "likeness" shouts the "nigger" 'neath the "wood-pile" of the saints,
  This "missing link" of "evidence" at last completes the "chain."
Yet Spalding wrote his "manuscript," before Smith found his "book,"
  And there's nineteen points of identity. Will Mormons please explain.


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 6 -

Thematic Similarties List F.

Parallels Mentioned between 1910 and 1936
(From After B. H. Roberts' Rebuttal to
George Arbaugh's List)

35. Unknown Writer: Encyclopaedia Britannica

"Mormons" in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed. XVIII, NY, 1911, pp. 842ff.

By the turn of the century news of the Honolulu discovery and the supposedly authoritative pronouncements of Rev. Fairchild and others had begun to impact entries on Mormonism in various reference works. Here is a Brittannica quote from those times: "The discovery by Prof. J. H. Fairchild, in 1884, in Honolulu of a manuscript romance by Spaulding... which did not agree at all in style or matter with The Book of Mormon, does not entirely settle the matter, as this romance is so different in character from the story read by Spaulding to some of his friends in 1811-1812." (p. 843).

36. Meyer, Eduard

The Origin and History of the Mormons (English translation title), Halle, Germany, 1912. (English translation, Salt Lake City, 1961).

Meyer's German language book was not widely read in America, but his statement on Spalding's writings reflects somewhat the consensus opinion of the more objective writers on Mormonism during this period. Such writers, having no ax to grind with the Saints, were generally content to leave the detailed textual research to others. Their statements during this time period were often dependent upon Fairchild's pronouncements of three decades past.

An extract from Meyer (pp 25-26, English edition).
(Spaulding's) document was said to be found by Conneaut Creek. Since this work resembled the Book of Mormon neither stylistically, nor in content, Howe let it lie. Witnesses in Ohio, however, maintained that this was Spaulding's manuscript, and that the latter had later changed his original plan, setting the plot in a later era, and removing(?) its archaic style.

The manuscript which Howe described was discovered in 1885... there is no trace of similarity to the Book of Mormon, apart from the fact that it is told in the first person, and begins with its discovery in a chest, buried beneath a stone, at the summit of a fortified hill.

37. Smith, T. C.

The Book of Mormon and Mormonism II (Sep. 1912) Denver.

T. C. Smith was an anti-Mormon pamphleteer of the A. T. Schroeder type, though he appears to have lacked most of Schroeder's scholarly abilities. He planned to issue a series of tracts on Mormonism and the Book of Mormon but cut short that effort after issuing this particular pamphlet. His similarities compilation is reminiscent of Mahaffey's efforts, and suffers from the same over-generalizations and forced matches from the two texts. Still, Smith uncovered and reported a wide variety of similarities between the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon. Some of these are new discoveries, not previously mentioned by other writers.

Smith also supplies, in his own conjectural way, something of an answer to Kelley's 1885 proposal that the "missing links" between the Oberlin manuscript text and the Book of Mormon text would have to be "endless." In doing this he attempts to locate some of the same kinds of "Spauldingisms" demanded by Roberts in 1909. However, Smith's effort would have probably been labeled a failure by both Kelley and Roberts. For, while he attempts to list some of these missing-link Spauldingisms, he does not complete the task by showing us convincing textual evidence that any particular element of Spalding's story was "transferred" and "incorporated" into the Book of Mormon.

Two examples of his failure to follow through on these presentations of similarities can be seen where Smith mentions that both works contain the word "adieu" and that both show a knowledge of Latin and Greek words. Had Smith taken the trouble to demonstrate how these vocabulary parallels fit into their respective texts, what particular uses the author made of these words, how they appear in similar incidents, etc., students of the subject might be better prepared to accept his argument. As it stands, Smith left his work unfinished and it is difficult to follow his reasoning much farther than to just conclude that several of his parallels might merit closer scrutiny.

An extract from Smith (pp. 83-94).
He (Spalding) cast aside the first draft of his story for another and better one. Naturally, if it seemed a good thing, he incorporated ideas used in the first story, in his second. And even if he did not consciously transfer them, they would persist, in some degree, and appear in his final work.

If Mr. Spaulding wrote the history part of the B. M. we will (see) his impress, his mental images; coincidents, agreements, germs of ideas, appearing in the Ms... worked into the second, elaborated perhaps and modified to harmonize with their new associations; but they will be there. And if we find these coincidences of ideas and correspondences of literary elements, they create a probability (amounting) to certainty, of his authorship, the degree of which will be determined by their number and character...

General Resemblances:

1. pretended histories of the same people...
2. account for the ancient mounds...
3. ... account for the American Indians...
4. the two books have a common date... 4th century A.D....
5. ...theology from... Asia,
6. both are the supposed histories of migrations from the Old World...
7. both stories represent the parties as being driven in their vessels across the ocean, by winds, and both escaped a violent storm...
8. [the people in] both vessels attributed their salvation from the deep to the intervention of providence,
9. both ships are represented as finishing their journey with safe sailing,
10. ...two separate people inhabiting this country...

Particular Correspondences:

1. the methods of discovery of the two ancient records are essentially the same,
2. (missing from photocopy of Smith's pamphlet)
3. both stories were written... for the future inhabitants of America,
4. the modes of writing were the same... characters... in columns,
5. abridgements of more copious records,
6. both people kept double records, one of which they counted "sacred",
7. ...revelation... by personal communication with divine messengers... by inspiration,
8. both employ magic... the magic stone...
9. the two books, speaking of the same people, give them the same or similar barbaric marks,
10. ...the same anachronisms... steel... horses... elephants... astronomy, both books betray great ignorance on the part of the writer of military strategy... the tactics described are chiefly marching away secretly in the night to attack at an unexpected point, placing an ambush... retreating into the wilderness...
11. both stories are blood-red with slaughters,
12. the defensive armor described in both was the same... skins,
13. the defenses of their forts and cities was the same...

Other Minor Correspondences:

1. the arms were the same; swords, spears, and arrows,
2. both books present a kind of communism...
3. prominent men disappear from history completely... Lobaska... Alma...
4. in both books... "adieu" is used...
5. ...prophets, priests, high priests, counselors and teachers... polygamy...
6. (missing from photocopy of Smith's pamphlet)
7. ...both books had a knowledge of both Latin and Greek... words
8. the names of women... considerable ingenuity in inventing names for men, but an inability to create female characters, and find names for them

38. Shook, Charles A.

The True Origin of The Book of Mormon, Cincinnati, 1914.

Shook was a living example of the kind of intellectual apostasy that leaders in both the LDS and RLDS churches were guarding against during this period. While his discovery of the Spalding manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels does not seem to be the exact reason Shook left the RLDS fold, he was quick to make use of these potentially embarrassing resemblances to try and discredit the Book of Mormon and the priesthood leaders who advanced it as latter day scripture. As the former Latter Day Saint says on page ix of his book: "Having been raised in the Reorganized Mormon Church, I was, from boyhood, taught that this claim (of Spalding MS-Book of Mormon correspondence) is a myth; that the 'Manuscript Found' had come to light in Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, in 1884, and that it bears no resemblance, whatever, to the Book of Mormon." No doubt Charles A. Shook discovered a "revelation" in the July 1909 article of Mr. A. O. Hooton. Shook's list of parallels is obviously derived from Hooton's tabulation, but the two compilations differ enough to warrant both independent and side-by-side consideration of their contents.

Shook's anti-restoration intellectualizing presents a dilemma to any traditional Book of Mormon apologist. That is, for the apologist not to recognize at least a few of the Spalding manuscript parallels undermines those traditional claims that say the Oberlin document is simply the remembered "Manuscript Found." But it is even more dangerous for the Mormon apologist to admit too much significance for the parallels. To admit too close of a connection is to (seemingly) discredit the divine origin of the Mormon book and its message. And when any Latter Day Saint admits that the purportedly "ancient" Nephite record's English translation shares significant internal connections with a work of 19th century fiction, that admission opens the "latter day work" up to a potentially endless set of charges labeling the Book of Mormon as pious fiction -- or worse. The thought must have occurred to the RLDS leaders of Shook's time that it was far "safer" for them to simply ignore the Spalding manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels he published, than it was to acknowledge those literary oddities and open the lid on uncontrollable discussion and dissension over their origins and implications.

An extract from Shook (pp. 156-166)
Both the "Manuscript Story" (Oberlin MS) and the Book of Mormon are said to have been found under a stone, which was raised with a lever in the hands of the finder... the "Manuscript Story" and the Book of Mormon both agree in describing a great storm at sea during the voyage which brought the people they describe from the Old World to the New...

Both records declare that the ancient Americans believed in the Great Spirit... (both tell of) the revolution if the earth... the use of the horse... the manufacture of iron... high priests... the seer-stone...

(each discoverer) found a record... very, very old... under a stone which he raised by a lever... in a box... only part was translated... many centuries hidden and miraculously preserved... while parties crossed the ocean tremendous storms arose... all were safely landed... saved from destruction in answer to prayer.

Each "record" mentions horses... burnt offerings... judges were appointed... different peoples... planets that move in regular form... words received as coming from above... sacred writings kept separate and characters used for words... forts of earth thrown up with timbers placed on top... property held in common... stone (by which) all things came to view...

39. Driggs, Howard

"The Spaulding Manuscript" in Juvenile Instructor, L:10 (October, 1915) pp. 631-634.

Elder Driggs purposefully presents a faith-promoting article and, of course, does not wish to concede too much in the way of Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon similarities. Those that he does admit are from the opening pages of the Spalding romance, where the extensive and substantial stormy ocean crossing parallels are recorded. Driggs only gives these unavoidable textual similarities a passing mention in his examination of the Oberlin manuscript; he says: "Whatever remote resemblance there is to the Book of Mormon is to be found in the parts quoted here..." This pronouncement is wrong, but Elder Driggs may have not researched the subject enough to have noticed other instances of resemblance.

40. Homans, J. E.

The Case Against Mormonism, NY, 1915.

Writing under the pen-name of Robert C. Webb, Homans provides us with an example of how some of the Mormon apologists regarded the Oberlin MS-Book of Mormon parallels during the WWI era. Homans only concedes the parallel of both works containing an account of "ancient America." From this vague resemblance, he postulates that numerous persons might be induced by the enemies of the LDS Church to fabricate remembrances regarding Spalding's writings. Homans puts it this way: "some of the former neighbors of Mr. Spaulding must have remembered that he had written a romance of ancient America, and the suggestion would have been natural that his book, never printed, "might have been the same" as this new "revelation"... within a short time, numerous persons might be found willing to state that the two books were certainly the same. (p. 51)

41. Homans, J. E.

The Real Mormonism, NY, 1916.

Homans (again using the pseudonym of Robert C. Webb) continues his anti-Spalding parallels diatribe of the previous year with the following statement: "the Book of Mormon is the direct antithesis of Spaulding's story... whatever may have been its origin, it is certainly not to be compared with the only proved production of Mr. Spaulding. No competent critic would decide that the two had been written by one hand." (p. 424). Mr. Homans was welcome to hold such opinions in 1916, as are sincere Book of Mormon believers today. Whether statements such as this constitute enough of a rebuttal to end curiosity and speculation about Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels, we can leave the student of history to judge.

42. Roberts, B. H.

"Manuscript of Parallels" (no date, c. 1920), copy in the RLDS Library and Archives, Independence, Missouri.

For many years this remarkable piece of LDS Historian Roberts' intellectualizing has been circulated privately within the restoration churches. It has also been published in several different forms in various anti-Mormon writings and as a part of a recent posthumous Roberts' volume from Signature Books of Salt Lake City.

While the writer generally focuses on the resemblance between certain parts of the Book of Mormon and Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, he is by no means unaware of the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon similarities. On page 2 of this article Roberts asks the top LDS leadership: "Has your attention ever been called to at least one striking passage in the Solomon Spaulding book as published by our Church, which suggests something of a parallel to the description given above of this stone box as found by our prophet? It is given by Spaulding in connection with his finding the manuscript of his book."

Roberts is, of course, addressing his ecclesiastical superiors, whose administrative responsibilities generally would have left them little time to peruse obscure books written by Dartmouth graduates of the former century. For some unstated reason Roberts felt compelled to direct their attention to at least one of the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon similarities. In doing so he left us with the strongest early twentieth century LDS semi-official admission of a possible connection between the two records (or at least, between the stories of their discovery). Roberts evidently did not intend for his work to be made public. If he had published that very interesting statement we can be sure that he would have toned down its possible implications considerably.

43. Smith, Joseph Fielding

Essentials in Church History, Salt Lake City, 1922.

LDS General Authority Smith provides nothing new here, but his statement is typical of LDS apologists of the years between the world wars. In placing Spalding's writings in juxtaposition to those of Swift, Smith inadvertently paid the former clergyman and anglophile a compliment he would have relished. No doubt Spalding saw himself as an American Swift with a measure of Thomas Paine and James MacPherson thrown in besides.

Smith tells us: "...the Spaulding story was lost so that no comparison was possible... As time went on, however, the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding was found... A comparison with the Book of Mormon proved that the two products were no more alike than the Bible is like the story of Gulliver's Travels." (p. 130).

44. Unknown Writer: Encyclopaedia of Religion

"The Mormons" in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics Vol. XI, NY, 1924 p. 86.

"The recovery in 1885 of the purported original of Spaulding's 'Manuscript Story' has been to the Saints conclusive proof of its non-connection with the Book of Mormon, for there is no real resemblance between the two."

45. Wipper, Frank (?)

Undated and unsigned letter written c. 1930 to an RLDS official, possibly a rough draft or a copy kept by Frank Wipper.  M. Wilfred Poulson Collection, Bx. 10, fd. 21, Special Collections, H. B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. It is possible that the compilation of the list included in this letter provided the impetus for BYU student M. D. Bown's research and reporting shortly thereafter.
Dear Sir and Brother:... first, the Spaulding Manuscript... Dr. James Frairchild wrote: "Mr. Rice, myself and others, compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance..." And Rice wrote: "There is no identity of names, of persons or places, and there is no similarity of style between them."

But we do not have to take their word, for we have the Spaulding Manuscript... let it speak for itself... ancient fort... people far exceeded the present Indians... flat stone... mound of earth... characters... assistance of lever raised the stone... sides rested on stones... very similar to the account of the recovery of the plates at the hill from the cement box, the darkness that came to J.S. etc.... a life of the author... country once inhabited by great and powerful nations... considerably civilized... bloody battles... heroes by thousands slain... an abridgement... more to follow.

Translator exhorts the reader to peruse volume with "clear head and pure heart." Moroni exhorts reader to do the same... born at Rome... Jerusalem... tremendous storm arose... lost... knew not direction... prayer... storm abated...

Rice and Fairchild must have been very blind to the facts... could find noincidents in common, etc. Ridiculous!

...all things common... cultivate arts and science, religion... in the wilderness... resolution to build a church... temple... degraded people, living by hunting, clothing... of skins... heads shaven...one appointed to address people, uses a stage... delightful country... woe pronounced... sacred ceremonies... two nations -- civilized and savage... astronomy... earth a sphere... elephant, tamed and domesticated... Almost identical with account in Bk. of Mor.

...transactions of their government (large plates of Nephi) a sacred roll (Nephi's second set of plates)...

Do we wish to try to say to the future generations that there are no incidents in common? I am astonished that any elder attempts such a thing, after reading the Spaulding Manuscript. Old Spaulding even wrote of the eternity of matter... resurrection and intermediate state... polygamy... teaching on morals... sacred person... four sons... great character conversed with heaven... influence of divine inspiration...

Great river... solemn council... messengers carry letters... government and money... high priest... fortifications... great peace uninterrupted... prophets prophesying... corn... (seer) stone... brave young sons... fight in self defense... for the sake of the children and wives... great battle... forts... 1000's slain... heaps of earth thrown up... great coup of entering enemies ranks after sleep had overcome them... flee and overtaken... duels...

Why summarize? If you are a student of the Bk. of Mor. you can draw your own conclusions.

46. Arbaugh, George B.

Revelation in Mormonism, Chicago, 1932.

Arbaugh, in providing his Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon resemblances, did little more than paraphrase and moderately supplement the listing Shook had compiled about twenty years before. But Arbaugh's book was published by the University of Chicago Press and it was received as something more important and objective than the sour grapes ruminations of an apostate Latter Day Saint. Even so, the focus of Arbaugh's book was not the Oberlin manuscript and he provided no follow-up for his regurgitation of Shook's parallels. As Lester Bush noted nearly a half-century later: "As usual, however, no significant attempt was made to evaluate these parallels."

Arbaugh's contribution to the study of Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon similarities is merely that he popularized the notion that the latter was somehow derived from the former. His well-distributed book quickly reached the hands of a certain M. D. Bown, then living along the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. It would be Bown, the BYU college student, who would expand, document, and tabulate Arbaugh's rough listing. And it would be Bown's work, not Arbaugh's, that would revitalize the study of Spalding's romance.

An extract from Arbaugh (pp. 17-18)
...there are striking similarities between the stories (the Oberlin MS and the Book of Mormon). The first was found in a "mound of earth," under a stone which was raised with a "leaver." In... an earthan box. Smith (said) the book was found in a hill, under a stone which was raised by "a lever," and lying in a box. In both stories a terrible storm arose as the immigrants crossed the ocean, the sailors lost their direction, became frightened, prayed to be saved... the storm abated... horses... mamoons... elephants... cureloms and cumoms... iron... Great Spirit, seer stones, high priests... the earth's revolution about the sun... writing in characters, communism, sacred records kept separate, and forts of earth with timbers on top....


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 7 -

Thematic Similarties List G.

Parallels Mentioned between 1937 and 1945
(From M. D. Bown's List to Fawn M. Brodie's Rebuttal)

47. Bown, M. D.

"One Hundred Similarities Between the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript," unpublished manuscript of a college term paper prepared for a M. Wilfred Poulson course at Brigham Young University, c. 1937. Typewritten copy made c. 1960 and filed separately in BYU Special Collections. Parent document lost, but originally in the M. Wilfred Poulson Collection, Special Collections, H. B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

It would be difficult for me to over-rate this enigmatic contribution to Spalding studies, made by a young Brigham Young University student of the mid-1930's. And yet, I have discovered practically nothing about Bown, the course he (assuming the male sex) was taking at the time he wrote this paper, or what immediate impact his report had upon his fellow scholars and professors at BYU. There was a period between the world wars (I am told) when an unusual amount of intellectual freedom was encouraged among LDS scholars. This encouragement to seek new lines of study, attend religious courses conducted at major universities, and present alternatives to traditional LDS viewpoints appears to have come from the highest levels of the LDS Church. Since I know next to nothing about the LDS restoration scriptures scholarship during that time, I'll say nothing more than that Bown's paper seems to have been a product of those times and of that experiment in intellectual inquiry.

I first came across a copy of Bown's paper many years ago, in the BYU Special Collections, misfiled with a 1964 graduate course paper written by A. Dean Wengreen. I had enough foresight to request that a photo-copy of the Bown paper be made for me at that time. And it was fortunate that I did this; for, upon my later inquiry at the same library, the document could not be located. Whether it has ever been recovered and properly filed, I cannot say. Lester Bush apparently did not come across the paper when he researched his 1977 Spalding article for Dialogue; but Rex C. Reeve, Jr. was aware of Bown's work and cited it (without full bibliographic identification) in his introduction to Kent P. Jackson's 1996 book, Manuscript Found... It is my distinct impression that the original was once a part of the M. Wilfred Poulson Collection, and that the paper I saw was a more recent typewritten copy which did not reproduce Bown's footnotes properly.

I have prepared a lengthy commentary on Bown's work as ">Part II of the "Sciota Revisited" series, so I'll not add any special notes here, except to say that it was my 1979 re-examination of Bown's paper which induced me to write a grant proposal that same year, proposing an in-depth study of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript. And it was primarly due to his own reading of Bown's paper that Vernal Holley began the research which led him to write his 1983 booklet, Book of Mormon Authorship, A Closer Look.

Bown's 100 parallels:
1. Both are accounts of early inhabitants of America.
2. In both accounts the civilization of these inhabitants was much higher than that of the modern Indians.
3. Both works pretend to be records of events of events that actually occurred, and not mere fiction.
4. Include religious and moral as well as historical accounts.
5. Both works use "Bible language."
6. Some proper names are similar.
7. Both use similar literary device to support claim of historical authenticity.
8. In each case the original records were written by individuals who actually lived during the time of the events related.
9. Both relate events occuring during several hundred years.
10. The extant records represent abridgements of the originals.
11. The records were deposited for safekeeping by the historian himself.
12. They were subsequently found in a box buried in the ground.
13. The cover had to be pried up.
14. The records required translation.
15. Both writers include an accounr of the departure of a small party from the Old World.
16. The people crossed the ocean in a sailing vessel.
17. A great storm arose.
18. The voyagers became frightened, and were lost.
19. The storm continued many days.
20. They prayed to God for the storm to cease.
21. Then the storm ceased.
22. They sailed further several days and then landed.
23. They landed on the American Continent.
24. There were many rivers and lakes in the land.
25. There were many tribes or races of people.
26. The people built cities.
27. Built along the seashore and bodies of water.
28. Some modern building methods were utilized.
29. Some of the people built houses of wood.
30. Others lived in tents.
31. They fortified their cities and borders.
32. These fortifications were similar.
33. There were classes among the people.
34. The people were governed by kings.
35. The kingship passed from father to son.
36. Practiced communal living.
37. Trade and commerce practiced in times of peace.
38. They had a system of taxation.
39. They wrote in characters.
40. They also wrote on a roll.
41. They communicated by means of letters.
42. The people were agricultural.
43. Corn and wheat were raised.
44. They raised stock of various kinds.
45. They domesticated large animals which are unknown today.
46. They domesticated horses.
47. Dogs were known.
48. The people had furnaces.
49. They refined ore.
50. They manufactured their own tools from steel.
51. These tools were somewhat similar.
52. They coined their own money.
53. They made their own cloth.
54. Pottery was made by the people.
55. Music and musical instruments used.
56. They practiced polygamy.
57. There were robbers in the land.
58. The people kept public records.
59. They kept sacred records apart.
60. They had priests and high priests.
61. There was magic and sorcery.
62. Some of the people were idolatrous.
63. Payment of tithing was demanded.
64. They offered sacrifices.
65. They thought the Earth revolved around the sun.
66. Believed in the fall of man from a higher state.
67. Believed that man was created by a supernatural Being.
68. The Lord speaks with a voice of thunder.
69. They believed in a good and an evil spiritual power.
70. They believed in a life after death.
71. A heaven for the righteous; a hell for the wicked.
72. Filthiness was particularly offensive.
73. They used a seer-stone.
74. Some of the people worshipped a Great Spirit.
75. There were prophets among the people.
76. The people believed that man had a soul.
77. They believed in prayer.
78. They observed a Sabbath day.
79. There were two dominent, but contrasting races or tribes.
80. Some of the people were dark, others lighter.
81. The people had a great leader with four sons.
82. Two of the sons became leaders of opposing tribes.
83. The people obtained inspiration from heaven.
84. Men of one of the tribes painted their heads with red.
85. Men of one tribe shaved their heads.
86. Men of one tribe dressed in the skins of wild animals.
87. Preparation for war was a constant occupation.
88. There were wars between two factions.
89. The last war was to be one of extermination.
90. Armies of huge size were assembled.
91. They were armed with swords and with bows and arrows.
92. Great destruction of property and towns, by fire.
93. There was a tremendous slaughter.
94. Women and children included in the slaughter.
95. They fought on a plain, overlooked by a hill.
96. They fought during the day and rested at night.
97. Similar strategy is described.
98. They buried their dead in heaps and covered them.
99. Attributed their destruction to the judgment of God.
100. Captured and domesticated fowls.

48. McGavin, E. Cecil

Cumorah's "Gold Bible," Salt Lake City. 1940.

Like Joseph Fielding Smith in 1922, McGavin here paints Spalding as being something like another Swift. As I previously noted, it is a compliment that Spalding would have no doubt enjoyed. McGavin tells us: "I have read the published edution of the Manuscript Found... the story in Gulliver's Travels is just as much like the Book of Mormon... the theme at the beginning of the story, however, is slightly suggestive of similarity to the theme of the Book of Mormon... the plot expressed on the first page -- a colony coming by sea to America -- is the only point of similarity in the two books." (pp. 175-177).

49. Bales, James D.

"The Book of Mormon and Spasulding Manuscripts" in The Christian Soldier, IV:9 (Aug. 14, 1942).

Bales provides us with a list of Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon similarities which he would expand and reprint 16 years later. I'll reserve my comments on Bales for my listing of his 1958 article. Bales' list was reprinted (without any credit given to him) in the Jehovah's Witnesses' Consolation, XXVI:667 (April 11, 1945).

Extract from Bales ...there are many points of similarity between the manuscript in
Oberlin College and the BM...

1. both found under a stone,
2. both stones had to be lifted by a lever,
3. both found in a box,
4. both represent the ancient inhabitants of this country as coming to it from across the waters,
5. both represent these inhabitants as great, powerful, civilized peoples,
6. both represent them as engaging in bloody battles,
7. both claimed to be a record of some of these peoples,
8. both were written a foreign language which had to be translated,
9. both had a translator,
10. both set forth the history of lost tribes,
11. both mention "church,"
12. both mention Jesus Christ,
13. both had people who believe in the religion of Jesus Christ,
14. both mention ministers,
15. ...the Lord's Day,
16. great storm at sea,
17. both indicate that the storm subsided after prayer,
18. ...records were placed in a box so that future generations might discover them...,
19. ...Great Spirit,
20. both believed in an evil spirit,
21. both referred to the (astronomical) motions of the earth,
22. both mention large animals which the people worked,
23. ...cotton cloth,
24. both mention the horse,
25. both mention earthquakes,
26. ...eternal life with rewards,
27. ...Great Spirit as maker of man,
28. ...white people,
29. both referred to great cities,
30. ...great teacher who wrought wonders,
31. both spoke of a people who were able to write,
32. both represented them as having some scientific knowledge,
33. ...mechanical arts,
34. both used iron,
35. both used coins,
36. both had high priests, priests, kings, princes, oracles, prophets,
37. ...seer stone,
38. ...war of extermination,
39. both believed in providence,
40. both speak of indescribable horrors as the result of war,
41. some people in both held property in common,
42. ...burnt offerings were made for sins,
43. both referred to judges over the people,
44. ...3 different peoples in this country,
45. ...characters were used to represent words
46. both kept sacred writings separate from the other records,
47. ...words of a certain man as divine,
48. ...some sinners would be saved after death,
49. ...counselors

50. Fry, Evan A.

"Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?" in The Saints' Herald, Sep. 2, 1944, p. 6ff.

One might expect that thirty years after Charles A. Shook left the RLDS Church and published his The True Origin of The Book of Mormon, that the upper echelon leaders and spokesmen for that denomination would have taken some note of Shook's Spalding MS parallels and have conceded at least the minimal similarities that LDS scholars like B. H. Roberts were seeing. But, as can be seen by the following 1944 statement, the RLDS were inclined to do no such thing: [The Oberlin MS] was published by the church under the title, Manuscript Found. It bears not the slightest resemblance to the Book of Mormon... There is not a name, or a place, or a historical event in the two books that is even similar, let alone identical... about the only point of similarity is that both books are about Indians (p. 7).

51. Brodie, Fawn M.

No Man Knows My History, NY, 1945 (2nd ed. 1977).

Much has been written, both pro and con, about the accuracy and quality of Mrs. Brodie's reporting in her ground-breaking 1945 biography of Joseph Smith, jr., the Mormon prophet. I'll not enter into that debate here. Whether Brodie's methods and reporting are laudable or not, her work was widely read and influenced the opinions of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) in the post-war years. Despite her vilification of Smith and her eventual break with the LDS Church, the reader of her original edition and its 1977 enlargement can discover a strange kind of hero-worship in Brodie's writing. She saw Smith as being fully capable of writing the Book of Mormon, even during his semi-literate youthful years. Brodie could not fathom how anyone other than Smith could have ever produced such a marvelous work and wonder.

In laying all the literary credit at Smith's feet, Brodie threw out the window any possibility for previous contributors to the Book of Mormon text, be they ancient Nephites or broken down former clergymen of the past century. And, although she began her work as an LDS member in good standing, with her book publication and excommunication she quickly became the darling of the anti-Mormons. More than any other writer this century, it has been Fawn M. Brodie who has quashed the Spalding authorship claims. The following excerpts are from her 1977 second edition, but they preserve the substance and the tone of her opinions, as first published in 1945.

...while the (Spalding) romance did concern the ancestors of the Indians, its resemblance to the Book of Mormon ended there. None of the names found in one could be identified in the other; the many battles which each described showed not the slightest similarity with those in the other... (p. 144)

...there was only one Spaulding manuscript, there were certain similarities between it and the Book of Mormon which, though not sufficient to justify the thesis of common authorship, might have given rise to the conviction of Spaulding's neighbors that one was a plagiarism of the other.

Both were said to have come from out of the earth; both were stories of colonists sailing from the Old World to the New; both explained the earthworks and mounds common to western New York as the result of savage wars... The narrative Hurlbut found had no religious matter whatsoever, but the Book of Mormon was permeated with religious ideas.

If... there were actually two Spaulding manuscripts, one might reasonably expect stylistic similarities between the Book of Mormon and the extant manuscript, since the latter was full of unmistakable literary mannerisms of the kind that are more easily acquired than shed. (p. 449-450).


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 8 -

Thematic Similarties List H.

Parallels Mentioned between 1946 and 1958
(From After Fawn M. Brodie's Rebuttal --
to James D. Bales' List)

52. Halter, Doris M.

Mormon Literature of the Nineteenth Century, unpublished Master's thesis, New York University, 1946.

Halter immediately betrays her ignorance of the two works by equating the Jaredites and the Lehites as people "who came over from Europe." She also renders her credentials in literary criticism suspect by her one sentence dismissal of Spalding's story as being only some "roughly jotted notes." It is true that Spalding's romance is written in a hasty, amateurish style that relies greatly on plagiarism from other texts; but it is also a detailed narrative that deals with complex issues. While the story itself is a sketchy pastiche of classical works, MacPherson's Ossianic writings, and such, its contents reveal more than just disconnected attempts at writing satirical imitation.

The Spalding romance has, as its foundation, two inter-connected concerns. The first of these is comprised of Spalding's reflections on how collective impiety and immorality leads to a society's overthrow and destruction.He no doubt had a genuine belief in this principle and did not just simply appropriate it as a device to explain the extinction of the mound-builders. His second concern is in pointing out what he saw as absurdities in the Christian religion. Spalding was a deist or atheist who nevertheless wished to weld Virgilian piety with Hamiltonian democracy. He would have favored the promotion of something like a planned, artificial religion in the place of what he saw as the mindless, outworn religious beliefs of his day.

Spalding managed to weave together numerous expressions of his two concerns within the text of a well-conceived, but poorly executed, parody of romantic fiction, epic narration, and social commentary. It is unfortunate that Halter missed seeing the literary foundations and thematic development of Spalding's story. Had she taken a closer look she might have extrapolated from it some interesting notions and opinions characteristic of very early 19th century American society and literature.

Excerpt from Halter:

This Manuscript Found indeed has little in common with the Book of Mormon except the fact that it is a story of the early inhabitants of America who came over from Europe and built up a complex civilization in North America. It is written disconnectedly and seems to be only roughly jotted notes.

53. White, Joseph Welles

The Influence of Sidney Rigdon Upon the Thology of Morminism, unpublished Master's thesis, University of Southern California, 1947.

White pictures a Sidney Rigdon who had pre-1830 "foreknowledge of the Book of Mormon" and whose personal version of Campbellite theology is reflected in the pages of the book. White appears to accept some elements of the Spalding Authorship Theory for the Book of Mormon and to see Rigdon as the alleged Spalding text's final editor. In arriving at this theory White unknowingly covers some of the same ground as did William H. Whitsitt in his late 1880's biography of Sidney Rigdon. White was unaware of Whitsitt's work and arrived at his own conclusions independently of the Baptist theologian.

White provides a summary of the Oberlin document, but he does not get into textual comparisons between it and the Book of Mormon. Regarding this matter he only says: "careful non-Mormons continue to accept the Spaulding theory, pointing out facts relative to the Honolulu manuscript which Mormon writers completely ignore (... the best source for this point is the thorough discussion found in Shook). Only three major non-Mormon writers, Bays, Riley, and Prince reject the theory." (pp. 79-80).

54. Goulder, Grace

"Old Manuscript by Conneaut Pastor..." in The Cleveland Plain Dealer Pictorial Magazine, March 5, 1950.

Goulder gives a generalized account of the Spalding story and its alleged ties to the Mormon scriptural book. Her brief mention of the textual resemblances between the two works is atypical of most references in the popular press during this period. "Closer scrutiny of the quarto (Oberlin MS) convinced President Fairchild that it differed too radically in style and subject matter to have been the basis for the Mormon work... actually there are some startling points of resemblance."

55. Kirkham, Francis W.

A New Witness for Christ in America Vol. II, Independence, Missouri, 1951 (2nd, rev. ed., Salt Lake City, 1959)

Kirkham spent a good deal of time in the late 1930's and early 1940's gathering a treasure-trove of early anti-Mormon sources. These he later presented to the Mormon faithful in an effort to counterbalance the effects of books like the one written by Fawn Brodie. Because of the excessive attention Kirkham paid to non-LDS sources he has sometime been guessed to be a "closet-anti." If there is any truth to such speculation it cannot be confirmed by a reading of his statements regarding the Oberlin manuscript.

Excerpts form Kirkham:
After 1884, when this manuscript was published, all writers and students agreed it could have had no part in furnishing the contents of the Book of Mormon. (p. 177).

Professor Fairchild compared the manuscript found in Honolulu and discovered that these writings by Spaulding could have had no part in furnishing the contents of the Book of Mormon. (p 207).

... there is no connection between this manuscript and the contents of the Book of Mormon. (p. 293).

56. Widstoe, John A.

Joseph Smith Seeker After Truth... Salt Lake City, 1957.

Widstoe's comments echo those found in most LDS and RLDS publications during these times. He considers the Spalding Authorship Theory for the Book of Mormon to be a dead issue. "The discovered Spaulding story has since been published in two editions. It bears no resemblance in language, style, names, or subject matter to the Book of Mormon. (p. 84).

57. Fielding, Robert Kent

The Growth of the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio, unpublished PhD thesis, Indiana University, 1957.

"In 1834 it was announced... that the book (of Mormon) was taken largely from a romance written by one Solomon Spaulding... This story... stood until the original manuscript written by Spaulding was discovered. It was at once obvious that, although its similarity to the Book of Mormon might be suggestive, there was no correspondence in plot, names of characters, or essential details." (p. 13).

58. O'Dea, Thomas F.

The Mormons, Chicago, 1957.

While White may have thought, back in 1947, that only Brodie, Bays, Riley, and Prince could reject the Spalding theories and still find an audience among readers on Mormonism, this obviously wasn't the case in the following decade. Brodie's opinions had been voiced far and wide. Mormon apologists had only her Joseph-as-author notions to contend with now; so they could join forces with her in presenting something like a united front against the Spalding Authorship Theory for the Book of Mormon.

This unity of opinion, along with the absence of any popular voice detailing the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon textual similarities, was bound to have its effect on modern writers like O'Dea. Such authors could write reams of copy on various aspects of Mormonism and barely have to mention discarded 19th century notions. O'Dea says: "Sidney Rigdon... is alleged to have reworked a romance of Solomon Spaulding. While some reputable scholars have given this theory serious attention... (it) is supported by a tenuous arrangement of circumstantial evidence and an even more questionable analysis of internal content. Few, if any, scholars take it seriously today." (pp. 23-24).

It's not clear what O'Dea meant by "analysis of internal content." But it is true that no published author in his day had set before the readers anything like a serious analysis of the Oberlin MS. Such a study might have been within the literary and intellectual capacity of a B. H. Roberts or a William H. Whitsitt, but such men had no interest in discussing this matter. The popular impression remained that the study of Spalding's silly old piece of romantic fiction could in no way contribute to a critical examination of the Book of Mormon.

59. Bales, James D.

The Book of Mormon?, Rosemead, California, 1958.

Bales previously published list of Oberlin MS-Book of Mormon parallels had appeared in an obscure fundamentalist Christian magazine which few, if any, Mormons would have read. Now, sixteen years later, he presents the same list, expanded by 50%, in his own anti-Book of Mormon book. This time the list was noticed by the Mormon apologists and it brought an almost immediate response from LDS scholar Hugh Nibley.

In this revised list, Bales inadvertently dropped his previous reference, "both had high priests, priests, kings, princes, oracles, prophets," but he also added some interesting new parallels. For example, Bales says of the stormy ocean crossing related in the two records "both represent the people on the ship as being in despair." While this sort of similarity is a valid textual parallel, Bales would have strengthened his argument of a textual relationship by noting that in both cases the voyagers were in danger of being buried in "a watery grave" or in a "watery tomb." Bales would have also done well to tell his readers that both texts at this point make use of biblical passages and that in both texts the God prayed to was the God of the Bible.

Earlier in his list Bales notes that "both speak of indescribable horrors as the result of war." While this is also a valid textual parallel, Bales could have made the reference much more interesting to his readers by telling them that practically identical phraseology is used in both texts to express this fact. Spalding's romance says: "It is impossible to describe the horror of the bloody scene... the blood and carnage"And the Book of Mormon says: "It is impossible... to describe... the horrible scene of the blood and carnage." (See the masthead graphic at the top of this web-document). Bales could have strengthened a phraseology overlap like this by noting that Spalding several times used stock-phrases of this type in order to say that certain scenes in his romance were indescribable. Bales failure to add such crucial supporting information is perhaps understandable, given the fact that his list is only a minor bit of evidence provided in support of his argument against a divinely-inspired Book of Mormon. However, this lapse on Bales' part rendered his listing vulnerable to the type of trivialization and dismissal it would soon receive at the hands of Hugh Nibley.

Excerpt from (pp, 140-146). The Mormons contend that the discovery of one of Spaulding's manuscripts demonstrates that it was not the basis of the Book of Mormon... there are three errors... that the manuscript discovered in 1884 is the one which non-Mormons have claimed constituted the basis of the Book of Mormon; that the manuscript in Oberlin bears no resemblance whatever to the Book of Mormon... there are many points of similarity between the manuscript in Oberlin College and the Book of Mormon. The observant reader will discover the following similarities...

1. both found under a stone,
2. both stones had to be lifted with a lever,
3. both found in a box,
4. both represent some of the inhabitants of this country as coming to it from across the waters,
5. both represent these inhabitants as great, powerful, civilized peoples,
6. both represent them as engaging in bloody battles,
7. both claim to be a record of some of these peoples,
8. both were written a foreign language which had to be translated,
9. both had a translator,
10. both set forth history of lost tribes,
11. both mention church,
12. both mention Jesus Christ,
13. both had people who believe in the religion of Jesus Christ,
14. both mentioned scriptures,
15. the Lord's Day,
16. both represent the people who came across the ocean to this country as encountering a great storm at sea,
17. both indicate that the storm subsided after prayer,
18. both refer to written records were hidden so that future generations might discover them and thus learn of these people,
19. both referred to a people who believed in an omnipotent, self-existent, good and Great Spirit,
20. both believed in an evil spirit,
21. both referred to the revolutions of the earth,
22. both mention large animals which the people worked,
23. both mentioned the use of cotton cloth,
24. both mentioned the horse,
25. both mentioned earthquakes,
26. both taught an eternal life with rewards and punishments,
27. both recognized the Great Spirit as the Maker of Man,
28. both spoke of white people,
29. both referred to great cities,
30. both spoke of a great teacher who wrought wonders,
31. both spoke of a people who were able to write,
32. both represented them as having some scientific knowledge,
33. both knew something of mechanical arts,
34. both used iron,
35. both used coins,
36. both constructed fortifications
37. both had seer-stones,
38. both referred to a war of extermination,
39. both believed in providence,
40. both speak of indescribable horrors as the result of war,
41. some people in both held property in common,
42. both indicated that burnt offerings were made for sins,
43. both referred to judges over the people,
44. 3 different peoples in this country,
45. characters were used to represent words
46. both kept sacred writings separate from the other records,
47. both spoke of the people as receiving words of a certain man as divine,
48. both taught that some sinners would be saved after death,
49. both had counselors
50. both purport to be the record of people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and ingenuity,
51. both present only a part of the total records,
52. more records will come forth . . .
53. an abridgement . . .
54. both attempt to get the reader to consider them in a certain frame of mind,
55. both have authors in them who announced their intentions to write and deposit records concerning their people,
56. both have authors who present extracts from other records,
57. both mention the number of days which the storm at sea lasted,,
58. both represent the people on the ship as being in despair,
59. both have an individual who seems to be in special favor with the Deity,
60. both mention Christians,
61. both have a number of occasions when men arise and make addresses,
62. both teach that prosperity of a people depends on obedience and goodness,
63. both pronounce woe unto the wicked mortals,
64. both have solemn sacred expiatory sacrifices and burnt offerings of animals,
65. both had people whose ancestors migrated from the west,
66. both use the term elephant,
67. both mention milk,
58. ...matter existed eternally,
59. restorationism with reference to the wicked,
70. polygamy,
71. adultry however was a great crime,
72. both taught immortality of man or life beyond the grave,
73. dancing...
74. both represent this hemisphere as once supporting large populations,
75. both speak of bands of robbers...
there are too many points of similarity for them to be without significance.


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 9 -

Thematic Similarties List I.

Parallels Mentioned between 1959 and 1968
(From Hugh Nibley's Rebuttal to Marvin S. Hill's List)

60. Nibley, Hugh

"The Comparative Method" in The Improvement Era, Oct. 1959, p. 741ff.
revised and republished as chapter 8 in: The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Volume 8 The Book of Mormon: (The Prophetic Book of Mormon) 1989.

By the beginning of the 1960's a generation of new, more sophisticated, Mormon readers was venturing outside of the official LDS publications to read O'Dea, Turner, and other non-Mormon writers who presented alternative (though not necessarily anti-Mormon) perspectives on the "peculiar people." An interest in developing newer, better approaches in writing Mormon history and apologetics was also taking shape within the Mormon establishment itself. In part this came from the Mormon need to provide something more than just reaction to works like that of Brodie, but it also came as part of a general maturation and accommodation of Mormonism as a changing religious and social entity within the macrocosm of post-war internationalism.

Author Hugh Nibley stands with feet planted in both the old and new approaches. As a hostile critic of Fawn Brodie and a devoted defender of the Book of Mormon's antiquity, he reflects the old Mormon apologetics. But, as a careful investigator and master of literary critical apparatus, he gives the impression of bringing a considerable measure of wisdom and objectivity to discussions of Mormonism. Unfortunately Nibley constrains his abilities as a reporter by saying mostly what the Mormon apologists of the old school had been saying all along. Among his other demonstrations of a genius in turning his readers' attention from concrete examples to tangential and abstract considerations, note Nibley's very selective quotation from Bales' 1958 Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels list in the following discourse:

Excerpt from Nibley's "The Comparative Method":
The fundamental rule of the comparative method is, that if things resemble each other there must be some connection between them, and the closer the resemblance the closer the connection. For example, if anyone were to argue that the Book of Mormon was obviously stolen from Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Story (the document now at Oberlin College) because the word "and" is found to occur frequently in both texts, we would simply laugh at him. If he brought forth as evidence the fact that kings are mentioned in both books, he might not appear quite so ridiculous. But if the Manuscript Story actually referred by name to "cureloms and comoms" we would be quite sure of a possible borrowing (though even then we would not have proven a direct borrowing). This hypothetical case illustrates the fact that there are degrees of significance in parallels.

Recently a Protestant minister pointed to 75 resemblances between the Book of Mormon and the Manuscript Story. None of them alone is worth anything, but his position is that there are so many that, taken altogether, they must be significant. The trouble is that it would be very easy to find 75 equally good parallels between the Book of Mormon and any other book you can name. As an actual example, to prove that the Book of Mormon and the Manuscript Story are related, this investigator shrewdly notes that in both books "men arise and make addresses," both books pronounce woe unto wicked mortals, both mention milk, in both adultery was a crime, both had counselors," etc. What kind of parallels are these? Seventy-five or seven hundred fifty, its all the same -- such stuff adds up to nothing.
Of course Nibley is correct in saying that simple lists of thematic parallels can never amount to anything like conclusive proof that the Book of Mormon was "stolen" from the Oberlin manuscript or any other document. But, as Nibley knew quite well but failed to mention, certain thematic parallels can and should draw our closer attention to the texts themselves. A list of thematic parallels which are relatively rare in American books of the first three decades of the 19th century might draw our special attention. And our interest might be heightened by a discovery that some or all of these rarer parallels are presented in two texts in the same order. Phenomena just such as these are discernible in the instances of similarities underlying the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon thematic parallels lists, but it takes an informed mind and a trained eye to readily detect them and to recognize their possible special significance.

In a note for his 1989 revision of this article Nibley refines his criticism of Bales somewhat, by noting that Bales has really not compiled such a massive list after all. Most of the similarities are actually only sub-parallels, and therefore little more than "padding" for his list:
Even to work out the small number of seventy-five parallels, Bales had to pad heavily. Thus, both the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript talk about great civilizations, as what history does not? This parallel is broken down into such inevitable points of resemblance as "both [books] refer to great cities," 'both... represented as having some scientific knowledge," "both knew something of mechanical arts," "both used iron," "both used coins" (the words "coin" and "coins," however, are not mentioned in the Book of Mormon), "both constructed fortifications," "both exceeded the present Indians in works of art and ingenuity," etc. Now all these things are inevitable accompaniments of any civilization; they are not separate and distinct points of resemblance at all. One might as well argue that since both books mention people, both imply that people have hands, hands have fingers, etc., and thus accumulate "parallels" by the score.
Again, Nibly is simply stating the obvious -- that the length of a list of thematic parallels can be extended practically to infinity by continually defining and listing more sub-units within the larger points of parallelism. While we should expect numerous sub-parallels in any two texts which contain larger, general similarities, this does not mean that such sub-parallels are necessarily trivial or insignificant. For example, Dr. Nibley mentions that the Book of Mormon does not use the term "coins" for its circulated monetary units. This is true: it calls the Nephites' metallic money "pieces," just as Spalding's manuscript calls the Ohians' metallic money "pieces." Both texts describe the metallic peices and tell how they were used to pay government officials -- and both texts express the cautionary advice that the people must be on guard, so that the wealth of these accumulated "peices" does not corrupt their judges. Probably Dr. Nibley read both texts closely enough to recognize this pattern of thematic similarities, but, if so, he had no inclination to tell his faithful LDS readers about such potentially disturbing facts.

What the careful reader of the two books should keep in mind, when compiling these kinds of parallels (be they seventy-five or seven hundred fifty) is that the gross numerical count of similarities matters far less than the fact that many of these parallels cluster together in the respective texts, forming patterns of inter-relationships both within and between the two books. To a certain extent such clustering is to be expected -- after all, where the two stories tell of wars in ancient America, for example, we might well expect the narratives to use vocabulary describing soldiers, fighting, defenses, killing, etc. But when such clusters can be shown to contain the same phrases, given in the same general order, and for the same thematic purpose, in both texts, that sort of patterning in the parallels deserves far closer scholarly scrutiny that Dr. Nibley appears prepared to allow for.

In my 1982 paper, "The Secular and the Sacred," I offered a refinement of the comparative method which could help us discern more significant parallels than those Nibley chooses to consider from Bales' list. My addition to the methodology implicit in Bown's and Bales' work requires that numerous instances of common phraseology must be documented as occurring within a cluster of sequential thematic parallels occurring in both texts. Even this constraint on the comparative method does not guarantee the discernment of any final proof of a connection between the writings of Spalding and the Mormon text. Some further refinements which would offer steps in this direction can well be imagined, however. The pages, chapters, or other logical divisions of the two works might be charted to show their degree of common vocabulary content. Clusters of relatively unique words might be located in both works. Clusters of relatively unique phrases might also be so charted. Some attempts might be made to show possible borrowings in both texts from a common antecedent work. An examination of how certain word useages in the two texts reflect the intents of the respective works' authors might be reported. Word-print tests of various types might be applied using particularly rigid methods of textual selection and analysis.

All of the above methodologies (and more) should probably be applied to any two portions of the two works which appear to possess an unexpected degree of thematic parallelism. The results of these kinds of additional textual studies may help us define degrees of similarity, expressed in certain terms of measurement, but, as Nibley is so fond of pointing out, these sorts of definitions will not independently constitute any definitive "proof" of a special relationship between the Spalding story and the Nephite narrative.

In short, the whole arsenal of literary criticism, form criticism, and source criticism might be brought to bear upon both texts and the results recorded for scholarly discussion. In particular it might prove very interesting to chart the location of major Spalding parallels in the Book of Mormon, alongside the occurrences of parallels taken from Ethan Smith's writings, biblical texts, examples of Campbellite theology, and other frequently mentioned possible source materials. If we were to list all the known stories, written in English, which tell of the trans-oceanic colonization of preColumbian America, prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, that list would be a relatively short one. It might include Shakespeare's The Tempest, Southey's Madoc, Hale's Genius of Oblivion, and one or two others. Those works would comprise the entire genre -- along with the Book of Mormon manuscript, the Oberlin story, and the long-lost "Manuscript Found," of course. In other words, there were not very many thematic precursors to the Mormon book, and all their texts could be compared with/against the Book of Mormon fairly easily in a computerized study. Their parallels with the Mormon text, once quantified and charted out, could provide good service in telling us whether or not the count and complexities of the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels are something unique, or something found in practically all these old texts.

While apologists like Nibley might offer some slightly modified remarks regarding the results of such studies, we might expect that their response here would be the same as given to Bales: "such stuff adds up to nothing." Indeed, investigators engaging in serious Spalding textual studies ought to keep in mind this presumed response and avoid directing their reporting to those forums where such unprofitable responses might generally be expected.

61. DePillis, Mario S.

The Development of Mormon Communitarianism, 1826-1846, unpublished PhD thesis, Yale University, 1960.

As the new trends in Mormon historical research and writing began to take hold in the 1960's and 1970's, we see the continuing influence of Brodie. DePillis "swallows" the Saints' argument of there being an identity between the "Manuscript Found" and the Oberlin story; and he calls Brodie's 1945 treatment of the Spalding authorship theory, its "definitive refutation." By this time most writers who chose to mention the authorship subject at all seemingly felt they could safely relegate that entire issue to the commodious dustbin of the Mormon past. Beginning in the 1970s a detante between certain non-Mormon scholars and the "New Mormon Historians" began to appear. With the founding and development of new learned societies, like the Mormon History Association, LDS, RLDS, sectarian, and secular scholars could interact with new-found purpose and congeniality -- so long as none of the participants questioned or explored the murky origins Mormonism too closely. This gentlemen's' agreement, to keep the focus of early Mormon history trained upon Joseph Smith, Jr., whether or not he ever really had golden plates, has facilitated the growth of a whole new environment for historical, social, and scriptural studies -- it has also perpetuated the consensus disregard of the Spalding-Rigdon explanation for the origin of the first and seminal Mormon book.

Excerpt from DePillis (p. 43).
Allegedly the Spaulding novel told of a story very much like that of the Book of Mormon... For more than a century anti-Mormons of every stripe have seized on the Spaulding Theory as incontrovertible proof of the fraudulent character of Mormonism. Mormons have fought the theory for just as long. In 1945 it was fully exploded as a complicated fabrication... Mrs. Brodie's treatment of the Theory may be considered the definitive refutation... When Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" was itself found, resemblances between it and the Book of Mormon were seen to be slight: (a) both were based on long-buried documents in a foreign tongue, (b) both told the story of an ancient (emigration) to America, and (c) both tried to explain the Indian mounds. Perhaps "slight" is too strong for the resemblance...

62. Coyle, William

Ohio Authors and Their Books, Cleveland, 1962.

"Eber D. Howe maintained that Spaulding's novel had somehow furnished the historical framework for the Book of Mormon. The belief was widely held until 1884, when James H. Fairchild, president if Oberlin College, discovered the manuscript and found little resemblance to the Book of Mormon." (p. 588).

63. Cheville, Roy A.

Scriptures From Ancient America, Independence, Missouri, 1964.

Cheville was a well-educated and informed RLDS teacher and writer who had a good command of the Book of Mormon text. However he seems to have never taken the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels seriously enough to carefully investigate the matter. Had he done so, Cheville would have probably recognized their evident significance and reported his findings honestly. He states in his 1964 book: "In the 1880's the document [Oberlin MS] was discovered in Honolulu, Hawaii and was sent to Oberlin College. In 1885 a copy was delivered to E. L. Kelley of the Reorganized Church. This was all that was necessary; the writing, both in story and style, could not have provided the basis for the Book of Mormon." (p. 345).

64. Wengreen, A. Dean

"An Analysis of 'One Hundred Hundred Similarities Between the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript," unpublished graduate course term paper dated May, 1964, copy in the Special Collections, H. B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

To my knowledge Wengreen is the only student of the Spalding theories who ever offered a critique of M. D. Bown's 1937 paper on Oberlin MS-Book of Mormon thematic parallels. So far as he goes, Wengreen does a fair job of that project. However, his effort is obviously that of a barely interested college student, more concerned with turning out an acceptible BYU term paper than with investigating Bown's findings in any depth.

Excerpt from Wengreen (pp. 10-11).
My impression of the Spaulding story -- while I was reading it, and also after I had read Bown's "100 Similarities" -- was that it had no connection with the Book of Mormon. I found nothing to lead me to suspect that Joseph Smith had any knowledge of the Spaulding story.

The "100 Similarities" of course point out the parallels. As one reads the two books, the great differences become very apparent. They just don't convey the same message or reflect the same tone or atmosphere. I felt this -- in spite of the many apparent parallels between the two works...

It is true that a non-Mormon, or someone not too familiar with the Book of Mormon itself, may be led to believe that the parallels indicate a close association, or that one was influenced by the other, but it seems impossible to me that one at all familiar with the Book of Mormon could take that point of view.

65. Morley, Ray Gerald

"An Investigation of 'Anti-Mormon' Hypotheses for the Origin of the Book of Mormon," unpublished paper dated 1965, in the Special Collections, H. B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Even the casual reader will notice the marked devolution in scholarly exploration evident between 1937, when Bown wrote his paper, and 1965 when Morley wrote his paper at the same university. Morley would have done well to have at least considered Wegreen's words from the previous year (assuming the latter were available by 1965 at BYU). As far as a possible connection between Spalding's writings and the Mormon book, Morley offers this answer: "After a careful comparison of this manuscript with the Book of Mormon by Mr. Rice and others it was definitely concluded that there was not the slightest relationship between the two." (p. 28).

Morley's conclusions regarding textual parallels are so severely negative as to undercut the old Mormon argument that it was a slight resemblance between the two works that first caused Spalding's name to be linked to Book of Mormon authorship. He says: "there is not one word in the Manuscript bearing any similarity or likeness to the Book of Mormon." (p. 79). Apparently he missed seeing that both books describe the initial, preColumbian establishment of the religion of Jesus Christ upon the American continent, and all similar thematic parallels in the two works. Either Elder Morley has not done his homework on this topic, or he is knowingly offering a deceptive, "faith-promoting" lecture in order to sidestep any meaningful discussion of the subject. I presume he is merely showing his ignorance and lack of study by making such an outrageous statement.

66. Davies, Charles A.

"Question Time" in Saints' Herald, Sep. 1, 1965, p. 25.

"discovery came in 1885, and the manuscript was placed in the library of Oberlin College... examination and comparison showed no similarities to the Book of Mormon beyond the fact that it contained the migration of Indian tribes... (and) the Spaulding work told in the introduction of its story of the finding of a record in a stone box in the earth."

67. Hill, Marvin S.

The Role of Christian Primitivism... unpublished PhD thesis, University of Chicago, 1968.

Dr. Hill's work well represents the incipient "new Mormon history" developments of his time in his conservative statement and brief listing of Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon thematic parallels. For Hill the Spalding question has long since been settled and he can concede a few similarities in order to show how the issue ever arose in the first place. Hill's reporting is delivered in the same disinterested, objective-sounding tone which Lester Bush would emulate in his discussion of the same topic nearly ten years later. The list of similarities noted by Hill is short, but he makes no attempt to render them trivial. Taken altogether, Hill's polished statements present both a thoroughly logical and believable explanation for the origin of the Spalding authorship theory for the Book of Mormon and for the sporadic reporting from anti-Mormons who still see similarities in the two records.

Excerpt from Hill (p. 96).
the testimonies of the eight [Conneaut] witnesses can be accounted for. They did indeed hear Spaulding read from his manuscript, and remembered that the manuscript told of early immigrants to the New World. They may have vaguely recalled that the Spaulding novel recounted how the manuscripts upon which the story had been written were once buried in the earth. And they may have remembered the wars which Spalding described and thought these similar to the Book of Mormon. The point is, there were some superficial similarities in both works... the Spaulding novel tells how the two major peoples in the tale divided and fought bitterly... stone... view things present & to come... This compares to the Book of Mormon where it reads, "And the Lord said, I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone..." (p. 96).


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 10 -

Thematic Similarties List J.

Parallels Mentioned between 1969 and 1977
(From "New Mormon History" to Cowdrey-Howard Book)

68. Allen, James B. and Arrington, Leonard J.

"Mormon Origins in New York: An Introductory Analysis" in BYU Studies IX:3 (Spring 1969) pp. 241-274.

By this time the "new Mormon history" was a movement just coming into its own. LDS historians and serious students of Mormon history were stepping out in front of the old LDS apologists and offering fresh views on Mormonism's development over the years. This appearance of objectivity (and in some cases its actual application) was coupled with a new spirit of confidence and optimism that allowed the LDS scholars the philosophical psychological leeway to concede a number of minor historical points argued by the anti-Mormons of past generations. "Yes" (the new historians might say), "some of the old Mormon explanations for things were imperfect," but they also felt that such imperfections had not stood in the way of the Saints developing a vibrant and lasting contribution to the religious world.

Allen and Arrington, while allowing new possibilities for some problematic old questions, felt that the dead Spalding authorship claims really needed no further discussion. Their curt remarks on this topic are: "The Spaulding theory has long since been discredited." (p. 247). And, from their perspective in 1969, that seemed a simple statement of the truth which could be easily sustained without any need for closer investigation.

69. Alhstrom, Sydney E.

A Religious History of the American People, New Haven, 1972.

"The Book of Mormon... shows cohesiveness, structure, and purpose to such a degree that a certain kind of learning and a considerable measure of imagination... must be attributed to its author... The theories which attribute authorship to the Reverend Solomon Spaulding or to Sidney Rigdon are farfetched in the same way and for the same reasons as Baconian views on Shakespeare are farfetched. As with Shakespeare, sources and influences can, of course be traced." (p. 503).

70. Allen, James B. and Leonard, Glen M.

The Story of the Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1976.

In what is perhaps the epitome publication of the "new Mormon history," Allen and Leonard here reiterate what had already been said in BYU Studies seven years before: the Spalding matter appears settled, once and for all.

Excerpt from Allen & Leonard (p. 71):
(Anti-Mormons attempt) to weaken the believability of the Book of Mormon by asserting a link with Solomon Spaulding's fanciful novel, Manuscript Found, which told of Romans shipwrecked among the Indians in America. Joseph Smith, the theory suggested, was too unlearned to write the Book of Mormon himself, and so Sidney Rigdon wrote it for him by adding religious material to Spaulding's narrative novel. This theory was discarded early, even by anti-Mormon writers.

71. Blumell, Bruce D.

"I Have a Question" in The Ensign, VI:9, (Sep. 1976) pp. 84-86.

In the new official organ of the LDS Church Blumell notes that the basis for the Spalding theories probably lies in memories of some vague similarities between the two accounts, coupled with "prompting from Hurlbut." This latter notion springs from ideas set forth even before Fawn Brodie popularized the opinion that Hurlbut's statements were not to be trusted. In the sense of their not being full, objective, and totally accurate statements this may well be true. It was very much in Hurlbut's interest to tailor the recording of these statements to fit the purposes of the anti-Mormons. But the statement collector was also interested in gathering as much previously unreported harmful information on Smith, the Book of Mormon, etc. as possible. It is very doubtful that he was able to get such a large number of people to publicly endorse lies of his own manufacture. If he had contented himself with simply compiling lies this early in his investigation, the results would have undercut Hurlbut's goal of locating new and potentially damaging evidence during the final months of 1833.

What probably did occur in Hurlbut's statement gathering business was something similar to what Spalding's brother Josiah would recall in 1855: "if I have been rightly informed, there is a striking resemblance between the first start and introduction of the Mormon bible and my brother's novel." Or, in other words, most of those giving Hurlbut their statements had already been informed of these alleged "striking resemblances" before they ever attempted to make accurate recollections of what Spalding had written or read to them. With this probability in mind we can well mistrust the 1833 statements' "evidence" because it must have been colored by the very circumstances under which the statements were gathered. This admission on our part need not, however, keep us from searching through their contents for a good deal of accurate historical information.

Excerpt from Blumell:
The similarities between this manuscript [Oberlin MS] and the Book of Mormon are general and superficial at best. In the introduction to his novel, Spaulding described finding the manuscript buried in the earth... Spaulding developed his own unique nomenclature for his story, but none of these names bear any resemblance to Book of Mormon names. The story has in it a transatlantic migration... a great war between two civilizations... these vague similarities could have led Spaulding's neighbors, especially with prompting from Hurlbut, to believe the Book of Mormon was lifted from Spaulding's manuscript." (p. 85).

72. Hill, Donna

Joseph Smith, The First Mormon, New York, 1977.

In her attempt to get inside the mind of D. P. Hurlbut, Hill pictures him as being crestfallen over the discovery that Spalding's manuscript was nothing but a non-religious bit of fiction. It is doubtful that Hurlbut was too much concerned with the contents of the Oberlin manuscript. At the end of 1833, Mr. Hurlbut reportedly was exhibiting an alleged Spalding's work which bore a much greater resemblance to the Mormon book than does the Oberlin story. Whether Hurlbut's exhibited document was a true Spalding original or a fake, may never be known. But, with this remarkable text in hand, Hurlbut (at first anyway) evidently gave the Oberlin document little thought. Rather than fulfilling his promise to return that particular document to Spalding's widow he simply turned it over to E. D. Howe, along with his collection of statements, about the first of February, 1834. What D. P. Hurlbut did with the purported "Manuscript Found" after ending his lectures in and about Kirtland, history does not record. His lawyer and Spalding's family were convinced that Hurlbut secretly sold the valuable manuscript to the Mormon leaders.

Eber D. Howe was probably the one who was disappointed upon reading through the Oberlin manuscript, not Mr. Hurlbut. Hill, however, sees the story more simply: "Hurlbut... found the manuscript, but to his disappointment, it was similar to the Book of Mormon in only superficial ways... it was entirely different in style from the Book of Mormon, and it had no religious import. It could not be set forth as the original." (p. 103). This was the story Hurlbut told to his wife and all other inquirers, to his dying day, so it is difficult for the modern student of the affair to impeach his later attestations directly. Early testimony (both Mormon and non-Mormon) marks Hurlbut as an inveterate deceiver, but only late assertions and circumstantial evidence shows him to have lied about the fate of the "Manuscript Found." Apparently Hill did not find this evidence particularly compelling.

In what can only be her own interpretation of the facts in the matter, Hill also says: "Scholars have long since concluded that the similarities between the books were mere coincidence." (p. 104). Hill's reporting on the Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon textual parallels puts the matter through yet another evolutionary step and the problem emerges as having been decided in the negative by the inevitable nameless "scholars." Hill, of course, fails to name these literary and scriptural experts who have furnished her with such decisive proof.

73. Curtis (Mernitz), Susan

"Palmyra Revisited..." paper read before the John Whitmer Historical Association, May, 1977, subsequently published in John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 2 (1982

In some remarks that we might have wished from from Halter back in 1946, Curtis notes how the content of the Oberlin manuscript reflects the thinking current at the time it was written. She places the writing of the Book of Mormon into this same early 19th century context, but fails to notice any possible connection between the two books.

Curtis sees the Oberlin manuscript as being: "A sort of fantasy about the pre-Indian society was written by Solomon Spaulding. Spaulding's delightful story is rich in detail that paralleled America in the early 1800s... at one point a transparant stone was used to 'view things present and things to come.'... while some have suggested that Solomon Spaulding's manuscript... (furnished a basis) for the story of the Nephites and Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, such a theory is difficult to believe. Nevertheless, the similarities in the books do reveal an important aspect of 19th century thought." (pp. 5-7).

74. Martin, Walter

The Kingdom of the Cults Minneapolis (1977 rev. ed.)

"Doctor" Walter Martin, a more or less discredited anti-Mormon writer of past years, echoes here the old thesis of Baptist Seminary President William H. Whitsitt, though without offering a scrap of that professor's scholarship. Martin carefully distinguishes the "Manuscript Found" from the Oberlin document, which he terms "Manuscript Story." This observation may reflect some of the complex realities in the Spalding authorship theory, but the term "Manuscript Story" is probably no more valid for the Oberlin document than is any other title. However, this distinction in nomenclature is important for Martin's purpose of maintaining that the Spalding text used to manufacture the Book of Mormon is not the one kept at Oberlin College.

Martin probably was not the original writer of any of these conclusions, and he probably only incorporated these explanations of the past into his second edition because they tend to make Mormons look bad. Martin's source was Howard Davis, whose own book was first issued (by the same publisher) at the same time that Martin's revised edition appeared. A relevant quote from Martin's revised book is: "Although the Manuscript Story has not been regarded as the Manuscript Found, which constituted the basis of the Book of Mormon, there is a great deal of resemblance between the Manuscript and the Book of Mormon. These points of similarity can be accounted for upon the basis that the Manuscript Story was the first, and rough draft of one of Spaulding's works which he reworked into the Manuscript Found." (p. 169).

As alreay stated, this notion was not a new one when put forth by Rev. Martin in 1977 -- the idea can be traced back to the mid-1880s in the writings of Clark Braden and William H. Whitsitt. If the story recorded in the c. 1812 draft of the "Manuscript Found" matched the summary given by the Rev. Abner Jackson in 1881, then perhaps the Oberlin story can be credited as being a sort of skechy precursor to his more elaborate work, a historical fiction about the loast tribes of Israel coming to America. The Oberlin story is almost certainly not a "rough draft" for the "Manuscript Found" or the Book of Mormon, however.

75. Davis, Howard, (with Wayne L. Cowdrey and Donald R. Scales)

Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? Santa Ana, California, 1977.

Just when the "new Mormon historians" were showing off their broadest smiles at having laid the Spalding theories to rest forever, Howard Davis came along with his improbable book, creating a stir from all the way from the newspapers of California right into the offices of the LDS headquarters in Salt Lake City. Seen from the distance of two decades, Davis' book appears quaintly out of date -- a throwback to the more primitive days of hardball anti-Mormonism. I won't take the space here to go into Davis' absurd charges that Spalding actually hand-wrote pages of the dictated Book of Mormon manuscript. Except for the historical oddity of their electrifying effect upon the popular press in 1977, these charges have little to do with genuine Spalding textual studies.

The lasting contribution made by Davis was an indirect one. His rash allegations spurred Dialogue to publish some relatively well-researched articles on Spalding in its number for the Fall of 1977. These articles, along with the publication of some old Spalding Authorship Theory references dug up by Davis and his associates, constitute the positive outcomes of the affair. The rest is perhaps best forgotten.

Excerpts from Davis, et al. (pp. 248-254).
Since the evidence already presented shows Spalding as the originator of the Book of Mormon, first known as Manuscript Found, the literary critic should be able to find evidence of that common authorship through linguistic traits and characteristics common to both works. We have found these parallels between Spalding's first novel and his second (revised by others but essentially the same as he wrote)... We are not saying the parallels are identical to each other. We are saying that the similarities between the two sets of parallels are to be expected, since Spalding was the author of the two novels which both deal with the same basic subject matter.

Discovery of the Manuscript... Seer Stones...The Solar System... Community Property... Descriptions of Forts...

The preceding examples of parallels between Spalding's two novels are not surprising, because of the novels' common authorship and because both novels were on the same topic. We have presented only a few of the many parallels that exist between the two works. While literary criticism by itself cannot prove common authorship, it can point out common authorship traits. The Mormon Church has repeatedly said that there was not one thing in common between the two works. The Church even went so far as to say that Manuscript Story, unlike The Book of Mormon, was entirely secular... we have listed only a few of the parallels we found, but a forthcoming book will fully detail the similarities. Our examination of the two manuscripts has led us to completely reject the claims of the Mormon Church that the two have nothing in common.

I have in my files a copy of the unpublished "forthcoming book" Howard Davis prepared in 1978. It contains numerous references to Spalding/Book of Mormon parallels, but very few of the textual similarities he discuses therein are unique specimens -- almost all of them have been listed and discussed by earlier writers. When time and resources permit, I will insert here a few relevant extracts from that unpublished book, however.


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 11 -

Thematic Similarties List K.

Parallels Mentioned between 1977 and 1983
(From the Dialogue Articles to Holley's List)

76. Bush, Lester E.

"The Spalding Theory Then and Now" in Dialogue X:4 (Fall 1977)

Even after the passage of more than twenty years, this contribution by Dr. Bush stands as the most comprehensive and useful summary of the Spalding authorship claims (as well as the closely related Spalding-Rigdon theory) ever placed before the public. Bush covers an large amount of material in a matter-of-fact, knowledgeable way that leaves the reader with the firm impression that, finally, the last word has been written in this saga of allegation and apology.

Alas, this is really not the case. Though Dr. Bush gives good coverage to almost every aspect of the Spalding claims and theories, his work suffers from several factual errors, numerous important ommisions, and a benign neglect of textual parallels. Bush is quick to concede numerous resemblances between the stories told of the coming forth of the two records, but he does not go even so far as Marvin S. Hill had done a decade before in noticing and discussion parallels between the two texts themselves. Bush's reluctance to delve very deeply into textual parallel issue extends beyond his writing of this 1977 paper. His response to my reading of my 1982 Spalding paper before the Mormon History Association mostly avoided discussion of textual parallels, even though that subject constituted the heart of my presentation. At that time he found my own work (in documenting numerous instances of common phraseology occurring within a set of sequential thematic parallels found in the two works) as being mildly interesting but not especially significant within the larger context of researching and interpreting Mormon history.

Bush's paper deserves extended commentary, far beyond what I am able to offer in this limited space. Its publication in Dialogue was accompanied by the appearance of Charles H. Whittier and Stephen W. Stathis' "The Enigma of Solomon Spalding." While this piece doe not get into a discussion of the Book of Mormon, it nicely complements Bush's paper in other respects.

Excerpts from Bush, pp. 40-69:
Although there are unmistakable parallels in Spalding's introduction and Joseph Smith's early experiences, there is little to compare in the actual narrative histories. Spalding wrote of a group of Romans living about the time of Constantine, who had been blown off course on a voyage to "Brittain." Through the "tender mercies of their God," they safely reached the east coast of North America, where one of their number, Fabius, began writing a history of their experiences. Most of Fabius' account deals with the Deliwan, Kentuck and Sciotan Indians. Aside from an emphasis on wars, however, there are virtually no similarities in episodes, characters, or themes between Spalding's account and what was found in the Book of Mormon. Only one brief passage is notably reminiscent of the Book of Mormon: one of Spalding's characters, Hamack, had "a stone which he pronounced transparent -- tho' it was not transparent to common eyes. Thro' this he could view things present & things to come. Could behold the dark intrigues & cabals of foreign courts, & discover hidden treasures, secluded from the eyes of other mortals."

The narrative style is particularly dissimilar, and Spalding's story contains not a single "it came to pass." As to the specific names recalled by those Hurlbut interviewed, Spalding had written of neither a Nephi, Lehi, Laman, Moroni, nor a Zarahemla. Stretching credulity (but being charitable to faded memories), one can find some similarity to a handful of Book of Mormon names. There was a "Moonrod" (cf. Moroni); a "Mammoon" (cf. Mormon), the native term for a domesticated woolley mammoth; a "Lamesa" (cf. Laman), in this case a woman; a "Hamelick" (cf. Ameleki or Amelickiah), and a couple of additional Book of Mormon "sounding" names, "Hadoram" and "Boakiim." More commonly Spalding used names (such as Bombal, Chianga, Hamboon, Lobasko, and Ulipoon) with no resemblance whatsoever to those of Joseph Smith. (pp. 42-43)....

Rice unknowingly carried the manuscript to Hawaii, where in 1884 it was rediscovered among some old papers... Rice sent the manuscript, which he labeled "A manuscript story," to his friend James Fairchild, President of Oberlin College, who in turn published his analysis of the discovery. Finding, as had L. L. Rice and others, no similarity in style, names or incidents between the manuscript and the Book of Mormon, Fairchild at first concluded that the Spalding theory "will probably have to be relinquished."...

Fairchild reasoned, "in its general features the present manuscript fulfills the requirements of the 'Manuscript Found'"-- an important point which Hurlbut and Howe had neglected to call to the attention of their early readers. It was, in fact, the story of a manuscript found in a cave containing an account "of the aboriginal inhabitants of the country." Wrote Fairchild, "These general features would naturally bring it to remembrance, on reading the account of the finding of the plates of the 'Book of Mormon.'" It had, after all, been "twenty-two years or more... since they had heard the manuscript read; and before they began to recall their remembrances they had read, or heard the 'Book of Mormon,' and also the suggestion that the book had its origin in the manuscript of Spaulding." The cautious Fairchild nevertheless chose not to carry his speculations to a firm conclusion. Some people were saying that a second manuscript was "still in existence, and will be brought to light at some future day." "It would not seem unreasonable to suspend judgment in the case until the new light shall come..."

The only genuine innovation in the Spalding argument to be found in the twentieth century sources -- before the past few months -- is contained in Charles Shook's otherwise undistinguished The True Origin of the Book of Mormon (1914). After studying Spalding's Roman "manuscript story," he concluded that it was considerably more than a source of confusion to those early but faded memories. To Shook there were unequivocal internal evidences that it was indeed an early version of the Manuscript Found, and thus the Book of Mormon. How else could one explain such anachronistic parallels as both Spalding and Smith writing of a "Great Spirit," horses, iron, and the revolution of the earth around the sun. In 1932 George Arbaugh added to Shook's list the similarity of Smith's "elephants, cureloms and cummons" to Spalding's "mammoons." Arbaugh could even imagine the transition: "mammouth, mammoon, cumon, curelon." As usual, however, no meaningful attempt was made to evaluate these parallels. (pp. 53-56).

77. Merrill, David

"Behind the Spalding Controversy" in Sunstone III:1 (Nov.-Dec. 1977) pp. 28-29.

"There is a superficial resemblance between the Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon -- the idea of a Hebraic origin [sic] of the Indians -- but plot, characters, tone and writing style reveal few if any similarities between the two books."

78. Jessee, Dean C.

"Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon" in Religious Educators Symposium, Transcripts of Addresses... Provo, Utah, Aug. 1977.

Dr. Jessee make the interesting observation -- that the Oberlin manuscript does contain resemblances to the Book of Mormon, but (in his opinion) none of these are so unique so as not to be found in "many other books." Presumably Jessee is speaking of the set of narrative histories of the pre-Columbian Americans first made available in English between 1812 and 1830. If that is the case, he is more or less correct. There are only a limited number of parallels between the Book of Mormon and the Oberlin manuscript that cannot be found in every member of this set of stories. The problem here is that the genre is comprised of these two stories and very little otherwise. As already mentioned, Southey's Madoc, and Hale's Genius of Oblivion might be added to the literary pile, but not much else qualifies.

Excerpt from Jessee, (p. 58):
The [Oberlin] document bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon that could not be found in many other books written in the same language. It is not written in the same sty;e, nor are there common incidents or names. The Book of Mormon is highly religious in tone, the Spalding manuscript is entirely secular.

The weight of scholarly studies in the field of Mormon history during the last thirty years has effectively rejected the Spalding theory as a credible alternative to Joseph Smith's explanation for the origin of the Book of Mormon.

79. Howard, Richard P.

"Since Yesterday" in Saints' Herald, Sept. 1977, p. 37.

"The Spaulding-Rigdon legend of Book of Mormon authorship spread rapidly, so that by 1900 dozens of analysts had perpetuated it in public print. More responsible scholars since then, however, have thoroughly discredited the legend."

80. Martin, Walter

The Maze of Mormonism, Santa Ans, California, 1962 (1978 rev. ed.)

Martin does little more than repeat here the same notions he had previously voiced in the 1977 edition of hisKingdom of the Cults. He fails to provide the "strong evidence" he had found linking the Oberlin MS with the Book of Mormon.

Excerpt from Martin (p. 60):
Dozens of affidavits were gathered from Spalding's acquaintances and family attesting that Spalding was the source of the poorly revised tale which Smith broadcast as the Book of Mormon... however, with poor communication and little organization, the publication of these testimonies was sporadic...

Almost thirty years ago... I examined a copy of Spalding's first novel, Manuscript Story... from a careful comparison of that work with the Book of Mormon, I was convinced that Solomon Spalding was their common author. As a painter's strokes are unique... so the author's strokes of style and personal mannerisms uniquely identify each of his works. There was no denying that the two books were somewhat different. but there was also strong evidence that the same author had originated both.


81. Arrington, Leonard J. and Bitton, Davis

The Mormon Experience, New York, 1979.

Arrington and Bitton provide what sounds like an objective, fully believable account of the origin and demise of the Spalding authorship clams for the Book of Mormon. However, they fail to cite the "modern textual analysis" which they say conclusively proves the texts to be unrelated. Perhaps they knew of no such studies but chose to print the remark, never expecting to be challenged on such a matter. They say: "The most popular theory, which survived well into the twentieth century, was that a manuscript romance written by Solomon Spaulding had fallen into the hands of Sidney Rigdon, who allegedly altered it and surreptitiously placed it in the hands of Smith... The Spaulding-Rigdon theory of the book's origin is based on a number of very superficial similarities between the two works, and modern textual analysis does not substantiate the theory." (p. 15).

82. Broadhurst, Dale R.

Various unpublished papers on literary parallels, 1979-1983.

Believing it to be a bit disingenuous to offer commentary on my own writings, I'll just list their titles here. I am in the process of posting and updating e-text versions at the SRP web-pages.

"A List of Textual Affinities Between the Book of Mormon and 'Manuscript Story.'" unpublished research paper submitted to the RLDS Historian's Office, April, 1979.

"A Preliminary List of Textual Affinities Between the Spaulding Manuscript and the Book of Mormon," unpublished research paper submitted to the RLDS Historian's Office, June, 1979. This is actually an earlier version of my April, 1979 paper, revised and enlarged to include the April material and more.

"A Proposal For a Comparative Study of Textual Affinities in the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript and the Book of Mormon," unpublished paper submitted to the LDS Church Educational System, August, 1979. This paper contains much the same information as the two above listed papers for April and June of the same year. It was revised in August of 1980 as: "Spaulding Research Project, Working Paper No. 1."

The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon in Relation to Solomon Spaulding's 'Manuscript Story,'" unpublished research paper, November, 1979. It was revised in August of 1980 as: "Spaulding Research Project Working Paper "No. 4."

"A Compilation of Similarities Between Solomon Spalding's Manuscript and the Book of Mormon," unpublished Spaulding Research Project Working Paper No. 3, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, April, 1980.

"A New Basis for the Spalding Theory: Parallels of Theme and Vocabulary in the Book of Mormon and the Oberlin Spalding Manuscript," unpublished paper read before the John Whitmer Historical Association in September of 1980. Essentially the same paper as: "Spaulding Research Project Working Paper No. 10", Methodist Theological School in Ohio, April, 1981.

"The Secular and the Sacred: An Examination of Selected Parallels in the Writings of Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon," unpublished paper read before the Mormon History Association in May of 1982. Spalding Research Project Paper No. 11

"Did Solomon Spalding Write a Lost Tribes Story?" unpublished research paper, privately circulated in January of 1983. (Currently under revision.)

"A Commentary on M. D. Bown's "One Hundred Similarities," unpublished research paper, privately circulated in January of 1983. Currently under revision by the editor as Part II of the "Sciota Revisited" series.

"Sciota Revisited, Part III: Spalding/Book of Mormon Parallels, Including An Analysis of Patterns of Ocurrance for Vocabulary and Phraseology Within Thematic Correlations," unpublished 1983 manuscript. 2003 revision includes a "Tabulation of All Thematic Parallels Cited Between 1834 and 1997. (under construction).

83. Holley, Vernal

Book of Mormon Authorship, A Closer Look Roy, Utah, 1983; (revised 2nd. ed., 1989; revised and enlarged 3rd. ed., 1992; 2nd. ed. electronic text version, 1998).

Holley's work is built primarily upon the previous parallels listing foundations established by Mahaffey, Bown, and Bales. Holley is the first published author who has attempted to list both thematic parallels and phraseology parallels. Holley attempts to merge his examination of these two phenomena by noting some of the common phraseology in the two works while discussing certain thematic parallels. Holley is not a trained textual scholar and his use of the "comparative method" results in his setting forth a mixed bag of findings. Some of his discoveries appear to be solid thematic parallels which are strengthened by his documentation of identical or near-identical words and phrases at those locations in the texts where the parallels occur. Other of Holley's supposed parallels appear to me to be based upon over-generalizations and misreadings of the textual contents.

Holley scatters prejudicial statements throughout his booklet, identifying Spalding as the original author or probable original author for the Book of Mormon. While he may see his presentation as amounting to some kind of proof for these statements, his more discriminating readers will probably feel that his gratuitous identifying of Spalding as that book's author detracts more from his work than it adds. This conceit aside, Holley raises a number of good questions regarding the Book of Mormon, including the whole subject of its internal "promised land" geography. If, as Holley suggests, the Book of Mormon geography can be shown to overlap the geography of Spalding's story, that fact would be worthy of our attention. I'll leave it to his readers to determine how successful Holley is in that identification. Although I assisted him with cartographic support in his geographic research, I find his reported results far too incomplete to be fully convincing.

This publication provides the best readily available listing and discussion of Oberlin manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels. Having said that, I must also add that Holley's booklet is the only readily available listing and discussion of such things. His work desperately cries out for the organizing and limiting hand of an editor. I have attempted to provide a bit of that editorial assistance for his 1998 electronic text version of the second edition. The result remains unsatisfactory and the Holley publication stands in need of a full revision and rewriting. As I plan to offer a separate, detailed commentary on Holley's work, I'll provide no additional details here, beyond following summary of the booklet's contents.

Solomon Spaulding (biographical sketch)
Spaulding's Manuscript (Manuscript Story)
Joseph Smith, jr. (biographical sketch)
The Vermont Connection - Smiths & Spauldings)
Indian Origins (Ethan Smith, etc.)
Similarities (Spaulding's story & Mormon story)
Finding The Records)
The Sea Voyage
The Promised Land
Unusual Worship
The Solar System
The Exploration
Cultural Technology
Theology -- A Divine Reformer
Government -- Money
Stolen Daughters
Titles -- Tribes
A Seer Stone
The Wars
The Helaman War
Battle at Hill Riplah
The Letters
The Last Great Battle
Blood & Carnage -- Single Combat
Literary Style
Archaic & Biblical Language
Chiastic-style Writing
Invented Names
Word Combinations
Common Phraseology Lists
Contradictory Thoughts
Poor Grammar & Composition
Other Stylistic Similarities
Second Great Awakening, Campbellism, & Spaulding
Kentucky Revivals: 1800-1801
Revival Language in Book of Mormon
Pennsylvania Revivals
Campbells & Spaulding in Washington Co., PA
Campbellite Theology in Book of Mormon
The Howe Book (Mormonism Unvailed, 1834
D.P. Hurlbut's Efforts
Orson Hyde Preaches in Conneaut, Ohio
First Statements for the Spaulding Authorship Claim
Smith's Writing Ability
His Inability to Convey Ideas in Writing
Stylistic Wordprints
BYU Study Results Questioned
Wordprint Comparison (Holley Study)
Six Texts Comparison Chart
Smith Unlikely to Have Written Book of Mormon
Spalding's Wordprint: He is the Most Likely Author
Smith, Stowell & Knight . . .
Smith's Travels
Book of Mormon Geography
Spaulding's Story -- Great Lakes Setting . . .
Travels of Solomon Spaulding . . .
About the Author


- Sciota Revisited: Part I -

- 12 -

Thematic Similarties List L.

A Few Parallels Mentioned after 1983
(An Incomplete Listing of Recent Sources)

Some Final Comments

As I stated in the opening paragraph of my Preface to this web document, I re-compiled this list of references in 1982 and appended it to my Mormon History Association paper, "The Secular and the Sacred," that same year. I did not feel that my delivery of the paper was well received, by the responder, the live audience, or LDS and RLDS scholars with whom I shared my findings. More than a couple Mormon academics and historians suggested that I drop my study of the "Spalding theory" and pursue other research interests. I was especially surprised by the response I received from non-Saints who heard or read the paper. Numerous respondents made it a point to inform me that it was a waste of time for anybody to try and resurrect the Spalding authorship claims, since they had been well refuted by anti-Mormons Fawn Brodie, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, etc. Practically the only investigator who gave me encouragement at that time was Vernal Holley. Faced with this overwhelming lack of interest and opposition, I began to agree that my investment of any more energy and resources into this line of study would be a waste of time.

Not long after my delivery of the 1982 MHA paper I suspended the Spalding Research Project for in indefinite period of time and did not renew any work whatever upon that investigation for the following 14 years. During that lengthy hiatus from Book of Mormon studies, the only published Spalding parallels information that received my notice was Vernal Holley's Book of Mormon Authorship, A Closer Look. There may have been other interesting Spalding related articles and book chapters published during those 14 years, but, if so, they were never brought to my attention. If I am correctly informed, LDS researcher Wilford Smith wrote a lengthy paper during the early 1990's entitled: "In the Shadow of Solomon Spaulding..." Whether that writer made some mention of Spalding manuscript/Book of Mormon thematic parallels, I never bothered to find out.

During the early 1990s I gained access to a personal computer and, having some free time, began to transcribe some of my research materials for archival purposes. A few years later I once again began reading other writers' works mentioning Solomon Spalding and his literary efforts. It had just begun process of organizing and cataloging some of my old Spalding Research Project materials for transcription as e-texts when I was informed of the research project just completed by Dr. Kent P. Jackson and his staff of BYU textual scholars, in the Oberlin College Archives. So far as I know, Jackson's 1996 book is the only recent hard-copy contribution to Spalding Studies worthy of any note here. However, the publication of the Jackson book apparently did not spark any new interest in Spalding, his writings, or the subject of Spalding manuscript/Book of Mormon parallels. Students and writers of early Mormon history continue to avoid investigation of this topic and there is little reason to believe that this scholarly neglect of the subject will diminish in any way in the foreseeable future.

Other than its brief treatment in the Introduction to Jackson's book, I am unaware of any noteworthy mentions of thematic parallels in recent graduate reports, papers, periodical articles or books. However, the 1997 appearance of Ted Chandler's "Book of Mormon Studies" web-site marked an interesting new development in Spalding-Rigdon theory reporting. Chandler's site has slowly grown over the last few years and he continues to add web-pages featuring Spalding/Book of Mormon parallels, some of which feature new information not elsewhere available.

My own "Spalding Studies" site has been on-line since May, 1998 and, since its expansion at a new URL, has included the on-line "Spalding Research Project." Only a couple of weeks after initiating the original site I posted my "Statement on Spalding-BoM Resemblance." That short essay ends with the following paragraph:

"My own subjective conclusion is that parts of the two writings resemble each other to a significant degree, in terms of their common themes, vocabulary, and phraseology. These commonalties form patterns of occurrence throughout the works which are very unlikely to have arisen solely by chance. There is enough internal textual evidence to establish a probable connection. The probability of this connection may be enhanced and more sharply defined through future study. Textual source criticism, vocabulary cataloguing, and refined word-print studies will all be useful in researching this mystery. But currently there is not enough evidence to prove exactly what that connection is, how it came to be, or that it should yet seriously impact the testimonies of Book of Mormon believers.

During the summer of 2000, a third Spalding-related web-site appeared, called "The Mormon Studies Home Page." Although I volunteered some graphics and html advice when the site was first set up, I have not subsequently been involved in its development. At present the "Home Page" offers little more than advertisements for Cowdrey, Davis, O'Neal and Vanick's preliminary text for their upcoming book The Spalding Enigma. While that preliminary draft is interesting and intriguing in its own right, it appears that the authors' new book will not contain much regarding literary parallels.

84. Norwood, L. Ara

"Vernal Holley, Book of Mormon Authorship..." in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1 (1989) pp. 80-88.

In writing this review of the 1983 edition of Holley's work, Norwood remarks, "To his credit, Mr. Holley does not state firm conclusions. Instead, he merely presents his research, asks questions (which any good researcher does), and lets the reader ponder the implications." Norwood also says, "One of the more notable characteristics of Holley's booklet is the tone. There is a dearth of the hysteria, finger-pointing, or arrogance reminiscent of previous studies in support of the Spaulding Theory." The reviewer attempts to repay Holley's restraint in polemics with his own gentlemanly reserve and the results are a surprisingly objective, but still "pro-Mormon," report on an "anti-Mormon" attempt to discred the sanctity of the Nephite record. So, while Holley refrains from the "hysteria" of some past anti-Mormon writers, Norwood also refrains from the "hysteria" of Sidney Rigdon, Parley P, Pratt, Benjamin Winchester and other "defenders of the faith;" the resulting effect is a pleasant change from the usual brick-batting of attackers and defenders in past journalistic exchanges.

Norwood's review quickly gets to the meat of Holley's presentation and concentrates on Holley's central thesis, that: "there exist many similarities between the two texts." The reviewer astutely points out that publishing a "plethora of parallels" does not really "establish the charge... of piracy on the part of the author of the Book of Mormon." In voicing this observation Norwood is of course correct. While the anti-Mormons' past use of thematic parallels compilations were indeed attempts to "establish the charge," such naive striving will never have much effect upon "the Mormons." Publications like Holley's largely self-restrained Book of Mormon Authorship are a step above some past anti-Mormon efforts, but they still attempt to provide fodder for anti-Mormon arguments. It is my belief, as a practicing Latter Day Saint who has studied the matter carefully, that books and articles of this type provide little more than welcome justification for ex-Mormons who feel a need to justify their personal transformations. In other words, the kinds of arguments writers like Mr. Holley provide work well to inform Mormons who have already decided to leave the fold, but they have practically no impact upon faithful LDS, or upon investigators making a decision of whether or not to join the LDS Church.

Norwood seems to sense the impotence of Holley's presentation, and so he can afford to be considerate in his handling of the material Holley provides to his readers. The reviewer buttresses his observation with the same argument Hugh Nibley has used for half a century: that the piling up of more and more thematic parallels does not necessarily increase the relevance or usefulness of the compilation. Although each parallel a writer cites may have more or less validity as an argument for a one-way literary dependance (the text of the Book of Mormon depending upon Spalding), the overall validity of lengthy lists of such items is no greater than that of the "best" parallel in the list -- the mechanical combination of all the parallels does not constitute "proof" of any literary connections.

The reviewer presents some surprising support for his own position in this interesting note: "Even Sandra Tanner, who is an avowed enemy of the Book of Mormon, found the parallels somewhat padded and generally unimpressive..." This kind of citation has no real logic to it, but it may be useful as a rhetorical device. Norwood's message is effective: even anti-Mormons cannot agree among themselves on the importance of such things. The most notable of the ant-Mormons will not stoop to pick up the demonstrably fallacious "Spalding theory," so, why should the Mormon faithful take any note whatever of such despicable and forgettable propaganda?

Assuming a more positive stance, Elder Norwood credits Holley with having presented "far more parallels between the Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon than have previously been published." The "181" Holley parallels may indeed appear impressive in their total number, but most were derived from M. D. Bown and other previous reporters. The few original Holley contributions to the list are a mixed bag and Norwood is quick to point out that the impact of Holley's work is a far less than convincing for Mormon scholars.

In turning the reader's attention to parallels which are "unique to both the Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon," Norwood begins to whittle down the size of any possibly significant similarities identified by Holley. While this approach may possess a certain internal logic, it would also result in our avoiding looking carefully at thematic and phraseology parallels which the two books might share with some antecedent text. For example, both the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon describe daring exploits carried out by commandos upon a sleeping enemy. The parallels between these exploits in the two texts are both substantial and impressive. However, the Bible, Homer, Virgil, MacPherson, and Southey also write of similar night-time exploits. If the investigator decides to refrain from considering all literary parallels which are not unique to the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon, are great deal of textual resemblance must be passed over. Ultimately this may not prove to be the best means of investigation. So, when Norwood says, "If, on the other hand, the parallels are found in other sources as well, then the case for duplicity is diluted," he is merely answering his own question in regard to "duplicity."

One of Holley's more interesting textual identifications (penciled into his original notes and emphasized in the e-text edition of his book) is that both the Book of Mormon and the Spalding manuscript appear to "know" the statement in the Introduction to the "King James" Authorized Version of the Bible which compares the British monarch to the sun. In fairness to Norwood, I must say that this three-way parallel was not clearly stated until I formatted Holley's book as an e-text for viewing on-line. Still, the rationale in seeing parallels mutually shared with certain other texts as being "diluted" is one of Norwoods more evident bad lapses in his generally intelligent response to Vernal Holley's presentation.

Norwood makes some good comments in regard to Holley's tendency to confabulate alleged parallels out of bits and pieces of rather trivial similarities. The reviewer says, "some of the parallels mentioned by Mr. Holley do exist while others do not, but never do I find parallels of enough significance to lend credence to the claims of plagiarism." Holley's attempt to see the Book of Mormon and Spalding both speaking of near-identical savages with shorn scalps, red-painted heads, and wearing garments of skins about their loins is a good example of this tendency towards confabulation in Book of Mormon Authorship... The sub-parallels do exist in the two texts, but their combination into a mega-parallel seems to be an uncalled-for exaggeration of the evidence. It goes without saying that, when an knowledgeable reader comes across a few of these confabulations in Holley's booklet, his or her confidence in the author's good judgment is shaken.

On the other hand, the Mormon reviewer's inability to see any possible significance in parallels which are opposites (or inverses) of one another is truly puzzling. Perhaps, on purely technical grounds, they might be disallowed -- but such textual oddities can be among the more interesting and productive examples brought to our attention for further study. In a hypothetical example, if one text says that a Nephite king wore his golden crown and a purple robe, and the other text says that an Ohian king refrained from wearing his golden crown and his purple robe, we might ask whether this example was technically a literary parallel -- but Elder Norwood seeks to eliminate such oddities from the readers' consideration without asking and answering these kinds of questions.

Returning to his desire to see Holley parallels which are "unique or unusual," Norwood questions why more "intellectually provocative" parallels cannot be found in the two works. This is something of a tautology. If such parallels had been identified and creatively explained by previous writers, the study of Book of Mormon origins would have moved to an entirely new level long ago. This is exactly the point LDS and RLDS apologists have been promoting for decades: that the two texts do not contain blatant overlaps and unimpeachable points of identity. Norwood speaks more rhetorically than convincingly when he says that he wishes to see a "Gadianton Robber" in the Oberlin manuscript. The discernible literary dependence is not that overt. Investigators like Norwood may have to content themselves in locating references to "Gaditani merchants" and "Gaditanian columns" (Gades was the ancient name for Cadiz, Spain) in old texts from which Solomon Spalding borrowed other linguistic oddities for his Oberlin manuscript. That, or they may have to content themselves in reading about robbers described very much like the Gaditanians in "Romance of Celes," an unpublished manuscript cataloged in the Library of Congress as the writing of Solomon Spalding of Ashford, Connecticut. Since the robbers of this manuscript story cannot be positively attributed to Spalding's pen, this sort of subtle literary parallel will probably bring only the contentment of its not being proof of plagiarism, to any inquiring Mormon apologist.

Norwood makes the correct, but misleading statement that "Mr. Holley claims the Book of Mormon makes the error of teaching Copernican astronomy." In looking at Holley's amateurish application of "the comparative method," Norwood entirely misses the fact that both the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon use the same anachronistic argument, saying that the regular motions of the planets help to demonstrate proof of there being a Divine Creator. If the critic is looking for the "intellectually provocative" common points of discourse in the two texts, such items as anachronistic Fabian astronomy and equally anachronistic Nephite astronomy should not be given a miss, just because Mr. Holley was unable to shed much additional light upon the subject.

Norwood ends his review with the following concession:
Finally, let me say that if I were a law professor and were to assign a student the exercise of making a case on behalf of the Spaulding Theory, I would expect (and be delighted in) the kind of results Mr. Holley has produced. This in no way means that I would find the evidence produced to be significant enough to seriously discredit the Book of Mormon (and I do not in this case). Mr. Holley's evidence, though still far from undermining the Book of Mormon, is as good an effort as has been made by any proponent of the Spaulding Theory to date.
I might indirectly return Elder Norwood's compliment to his fallen co-religionist by saying that if I were the reviewer's ecclesiastical superior I probably would not be very happy in reading this review. However, given the fact that FARMS published Norwood's thoughtful comments, I'll guess that his half-concessions to Holley were not viewed as offering dangerous counter-arguments to the traditional LDS viewpoint. As a faithful Latter Day Saint myself, I find considerable consolation in knowing that there are others in this world who have expended the time and thoughtfulness to carefully consider the kinds of points which Holley has raised in his book.

85a. Griffith, Michael T.

Refuting The Critics: Evidences of the Book of Mormon's Authenticity, 1993.

Chapter 4: The Book of Mormon and Solomon Spaulding: A Reply to Vernal Holley's Booklet, "Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look" Excerpts on-line at Griffith's Book of Mormon and Spalding web-page ( -- use archive.org to access Griffith's old URL).

Michael T. Griffith begins his review of the Holley pamphlet by saying:

"Holley believes that most of the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from Solomon Spaulding's 1812 novel, Manuscript Story. Holley claims that his booklet is "a comprehensive study of the similarities" between the Nephite record and Manuscript Story.

The idea that the Book of Mormon is based on Spaulding's fictitious work has come to be known as the Spaulding theory. This theory has been so thoroughly discredited that even most modern anti-Mormons reject it (most, but not all). Holley's work is the most ambitious modern attempt to resurrect the Spaulding theory. Some anti-LDS critics view Holley's booklet as a valid defense of the theory. What follows is an analysis of some of the errors and weaknesses in Holley's pamphlet."
Elder Griffith is, of course, correct in pointing out that the Book of Mormon is not, by any stretch of the imagination, directly based upon Solomon Spalding's c. 1812 novel, commonly called the Oberlin Spalding manuscript. This is an important point and it needs to be made early in any review of the Spalding claims or the Spalding-Rigdon authorship theory for the Book of Mormon. However, Vernal Holley is careful enough to avoid saying that the Oberlin manuscript *he calls it "Manuscript Story") is the Book of Mormon or a portion of that book. Instead, Holley ends the 1989 edition of his booklet by saying that there are interesting similarities between the two stories and questioning "How did this relationship come about?" Griffith might have saved himself a good deal of work by simply noting that Holley has overstated the nature and probable significance of a good number of those "similarities."

Most careful readers will probably agree that Mr. Holley would have done well to have avoided painting himself into a rhetorical corner by advocating at least a semi-credible theory about how the similarities in the Oberlin manuscript might have come to be incorporated into the English "translation" of the "Nephite record." Although they may seem far-fetched, there are a number of possible explanations for this literary correspondence, including the alleged supernatural powers of the "Seer of Palmyra" and the possibility that Spalding was blessed with some dim ability to discern bits and pieces of America's Nephite past, in dreams, visions, through automatic writing, or some other unusual phenomenon. Having failed to consider these and other possible "excuses" for literary dependence, Holley renders himself vulnerable to all the "refuting" Griffith so energetically dishes out to him.

Griffith goes on to say: "One of the biggest weaknesses of the Spaulding theory is the total lack of any hard evidence connecting Joseph Smith with Spaulding's Manuscript Story. Holley's booklet contains no such evidence. In fact, the proponents of the Spaulding theory have never been able to produce one shred of evidence that Joseph Smith read or even heard of Spaulding's novel before translating and publishing the Book of Mormon." Depending upon how we might define "one shred of evidence," Griffith seems to have made a valid point here; on the other hand, some advocates of the veracity of early witness statements and hearsay placing Joseph Smith (junior or senior) in close proximity with a trunk full of Spalding's possessions in Onondaga or Otsego counties, New York during the 1820s might belabor Griffith's not one shred of evidence" remark. Holley provides in his pamphlet an interesting map (which I originally rendered in 1981, by the way) showing the positioning of that particular trunk in relation to the Palmyra, New York and Harmony, Pennsylvania regions. The modern investigator should perhaps keep in mind that the story of Joseph Smith, Jr. having assisted in digging a well on property belonging to Josiah Stowell's close relative in Hartwick, Otsego Co., practically next door to where the old trunk was long kept in storage, is neither historically impossible nor totally improbable. It is not a possibility that I view as being especially viable, but Vernal Holley and some of his associates were very interested in researching this alleged connection.

Such thorny elements and distractions in the cumulative "Spalding theory" always seem to pop up, just when investigators believe they have all the loose ends to the facts, conjectures, errors and probable fabrications nailed down. Obviously the "theory" is not a homogeneous collection of testimony and explanations -- it is probably more forthright to call that collection of assertions the "Spalding theories."

Griffith devotes a good many words to pointing out that Holley should take into consideration the "ancient evidence" for the Book of Mormon's various peoples and their supposed civilizations in the Americas. Although this would certainly be a good point for argument in a face-to-face discussion between the two writers, Griffith would have done better in his published review to have stuck to the topic at hand, which is Holley's handling of alleged thematic and vocabulary parallels between the Oberlin manuscript and the Nephite narrative.

Griffith also directs our attention to Lester Bush's commendable 1977 Dialogue article on the Spalding authorship claims and theories. Whether that particular article can be called a "refutation" is open to question. Bush perhaps manages to achieve this effect in the minds of many of his readers (LDS and non-LDS alike), but he appears to present his work as objective study, unhindered by "faithful" presuppositions or saintly agendas. On the surface Bush's article does not come across to the reader as traditional Mormon apologetics or an attempt to silence advocates of the claims and theories. Still, it can honestly be said that Vernal Holley could have improved his research and reporting by taking more careful note of Bush's scholarship; it is "required reading" for anyone addressing this topic.

In speaking of Holley's identification of parallels, Griffith says: "Holley's alleged similarities... can be divided into three general groups: (A) those thatare simply invalid; (B) those that are extremely general in nature; and (C)those that can be matched with equally close or closer parallels fromancient Near Eastern and/or Mesoamerican sources." This sort of reductionism on Griffith's part serves no useful purpose -- it seems to be a journalistic "divide and conquer" technique that might appeal to some LDS apologetics possessed of Griffith's mentality, but his approaching Holley's findings from this prejudiced perspective ignores or trivializes too much of what the original writer had to say. This approach at catagorizing Holley's findings also leaves the reviewer open to accusations that he has not sorted out and considered Holley's thematic and vocabulary parallels, based upon their intrinsic merit in either matching well with the Mormon text or not matching it. Clearly some of Holley's parallels appear more relevant or convincing than others; they almost cry out for sorting and rank-ordering -- but most of them also deserve closer attention than Griffith is prepared to give them. One set of similarities offered by Mr. Holley have to do with the reported discoveries of the two respective ancient records and those should be examined and discussed separately from literary parallels derived from the texts themselves. Griffith might have better begun his three-part catagorization by elucidating such differences among Holley's examples.

Getting on to the actual thematic parallels in Holley, Griffith addresses Holley's citation of similarities in the ocean crossings with, "What kinds of 'parallels' are these?" Actually the stormy ocean crossing sequences in the two books are one of the more productive portions of the texts for our coming up with similarities of theme and vocabulary. But then, they can also arguably be matched up with half a dozen different old texts predating the writing of Spalding's manuscript and the publication of the Book of Mormon. The useful point to be made in this case is that the "stormy ocean crossing" stories in the two texts contain thematic parallels, related in practically the same order in the respective stories, in very similar phraseology, for the same plot purposes and for very similar philosophical or theological purposes. Since Holley did not take the trouble to point out these patterns of textual correspondence, perhaps Elder Griffith is justified and asking "What kinds of 'parallels' are these?" The patterns of parallels in the two texts must ultimately be elucidated with reasonable explanations of how they came to occur in the texts -- whether by design or by coincidence. Although Griffith is justified in his remark in regard to Holley's list making, I can only wonder how Griffith might respond to my own, more detailed, studies and reporting of these same "stormy ocean crossing" parallels.

One thing Griffith is constantly pointing out are the dissimilarities in the two works. While this is interesting stuff, it really goes nowhere in providing a refutation of Holley's work. We might just as easily point out hundreds of ways in which the Jaredite story in no way resembles the Lehite story -- on the other hand any reader will concede that they contain numerous significant similarities. The fact that the Jaredite and Lehite accounts contain many differences should not excuse us from examining their similarities, and the same thing can be said of the Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon story as a whole. These arguments regarding dissimilarities probably belong in an entirely different article than the one Griffith has set before his readers. For example, Elder Griffith spends considerable energy in responding to how the Book of Mormon's Christ does not resemble Spalding's Lobaska. Most of his points are entirely valid, but they do little to refute Holley's observation that the two characters play similar roles in relation to their respective accounts. If we look at this issue from a different perspective, and ask "Which Book of Mormon characters does Lobaska most closely resemble?"-- we would perhaps have to list Nephi, the son of Lehi, Alma the elder, and the Jesus of III Nephi. Spalding's Lobaska is, to a great extent, based upon the old "white savior/teacher in ancient America" accounts, as related by early Spanish historians and embellished by later writers in both semi-factual and fictional sccounts. A fair number of Mormons have used those same "He walked the Americas" legends to support the notion that the risen Christ once visited the New World. Holley's Lobaska-Jesus parallel is a valid one; Holley just did not state it very well.

Moving to another point of discussion, Vernal Holley's attempt to ellucidate Book of Mormon Geography might be seen as being a weak link in his chain of evidence. That part of his book is not well integrated with his section on thematic parallels. On the other hand, assuming that the Book of Mormon presents any thing like a consistent geography, it is not unlikely that its author(s) meant to convey the fact that a portion of the Book of Mormon story takes place in and around the Great Lakes area. Early Mormons like Charles B. Thompson and the Pratts believed this to be the case; modern Mormons like Delbert Curtis and Phyllis Olive have voiced that same idea. Neither the leaders of the LDS nor the RLDS (since about 1920, at least) churches have ever condemned the Great Lakes Mormon geographical explanations or offered official alternatives. On the other hand, dedicated anti-Mormon attackers like William H. Whistitt have made reference to alleged Central American setting as a means whereby to discredit the Book of Mormon.

Just like the terms "Gaditani merchants" and "Gaditanian columns" and the name "Helorum" have their origins in classical Mediterranean geography, so also does the three-part word set "Sea East," "Sea West," and "narrow neck of land" first occur in English translations of classical works speaking of the Isthmus of Cornith, in ancient Greece. Solomon Spalding was reportedly a student of the Greco-Roman classics, and was fond of appropriating unusual names from them (Eleseon? Helicon? Fabius?) for use in his fictional stories. It is not unreasonable to assume that the classics-loving Spalding might have made use of terms like "Sea East," "Sea West," and "narrow neck of land" in describing the geography between Buffalo and Toronto, or between Central and South America, just as easily as ancient writers applied that set of terms to the central region of Greece. That particular geographical configuration is in no way unique to the Book of Mormon story, to say the least. In light of all these geographical considerations, Michael T. Griffith might do well to make some mention of such things in any subsequent edition of his review of Holley's findings.

Griffith's comments on Holley's alleged astronomy parallels are good ones, but, as I've explained in my review of Norwood's review on this same subject, the real parallel is not found in the details of the respective astrophysical models; rather, it is found in the two texts' citing the regular motions of the planets as a proof of a Divine Creator.

Word-print studies for the Book of Mormon are in their infancy, and, to my way of thinking, the best applications of the tool have yet to be utilized in studying the Spalding text and the Book of Mormon text. For example, what might the results be, if we were to ask the word-printers to search the two texts and chart out for our inspection those sections of each wherein length word-blocks share the most and the least linguistic overlap? We might also ask the computer programmers to write word study software that could locate patterns of abridgment or redaction in either work. We might then go back into the computer lab, with these initial findings in hand, and intelligently mark the limits of certain sections the two respective texts to be studied for their contextual or non-contextual word occurrence patterns.

Only when we have a sizable set of data derived from a variety of such computerized tests, planned and implemented by disinterested experts, will we have something really worth quoting to the non-Mormons and anti-Mormons about how the language in certain parts of the Book of Mormon does or does not correspond to that found in other interesting texts. Holley's amateurish attempt at Book of Mormon word-printing strikes me as being just as interesting as anything I've read in a Sunstone or BYU Studies article on the subject. Perhaps he even prints some word analysis findings in his booklet worthy of our further study.

Griffith ends his review by saying "Few people have studied the Spaulding theory more than Mormon historians Dean Jessee and Bruce Blummell." He then provides their negative opinions on the matter. Without attempting to inject myself into Griffith's reporting I might wonder why he has not solicited my statement on the subject. Were I to provide such an addition, I would agree with scholars like Bush, Jessee, and Blummell on numerous relevant points and probably disagree with one or more of them on a few others. All of which means little, except to say that there can be differences of opinion even among serious students of so complex a phenomenon as the Spalding authorship claims and theories. Calling on the learned opinions of past scholars of this subject, merely serves to unsheathe a two-edged sword of interpretation which might cut equally well, in the both supportive and non-supportive directions.

Were I Griffith's graduate studies teacher in comparative literature and restoration scriptures textual criticism, I'd probably give him a B- for his review of Holley's book and the Spalding claims. Were I to approach the same task as his ecclesiastical superior in the LDS Church, I'd no doubt give him a solid A.

85b. Carter, K. Codell & Isaac, Christopher B.

"One Response to a Singularly Worthless Genre," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6:2 (1994) pp. 114-117.

Writers Carter and Isaac start off by reviewing Griffith's 1993 book (see item immediately above) and in the process they insert some comments regarding the Spalding theory. As nothing in their review is new or particularly insightful, the reader is directed back to Griffth's book for the relevant details.

The reviewers say:
in his fourth chapter, Griffith considers Vernal Holley's 1983 revival of the Spaulding theory. Holley's main argument goes like this: there are lots of similarities between the Book of Mormon and Spaulding's Manuscript Story; therefore, the second was the source for the first. Griffith takes this argument seriously -- as indeed he must given the nature of his project -- but, we confess, it wasn't easy for us to do so. Griffith attacks some of Holley's parallels (pp. 67-71), he dismisses others as too general to be of significance (p. 65), and he points out differences between the Book of Mormon and Spaulding's novel (pp. 78-83). Griffith also discusses recent discoveries (e.g. chiasmus, wordprint patterns, and ancient Near Eastern name patterns) that -- however one is to account for them -- clearly show the Book of Mormon could never have been simply derived from Spaulding's story. But Griffith devotes less than half a page to what seems to us to be the most glaring hole in Holley's argument -- namely (as Griffith puts it) "the total lack of any hard evidence connecting Joseph Smith with Spaulding's Manuscript Story" (p. 62)... In fact, in the absence of any evidence that Joseph had ever seen or even heard of Spaulding's manuscript, there is no point in discussing supposed parallels or differences between the Book of Mormon and the Manuscript Story.

Holley also tries to demonstrate a connection between the Book of Mormon and the Manuscript Story by citing phrases that can be found in both books. But as anyone with access to a computer-readable edition of the scriptures can easily determine, about eighty percent of the phrases that, according to Holley, Joseph could only have derived from Spaulding can also be found in the Bible. So these shared forms of speech provide no significant evidence that Joseph was drawing on Spaulding.

Having read both Holley and the Spaulding manuscript, our conclusion is that no one with honest intent could ever seriously maintain that the Book of Mormon was derived in any way from the Manuscript Story. Thus, we think Griffith is far too easy on Holley: Holley's pamphlet isn't just error ridden and weak -- it's either an hilarious exercise in sarcasm (perhaps by acloset Mormon) or is nauseatingly dishonest. Unfortunately, the dullness of the text forces us to the second alternative.

86. Brown, Robert L. & Rosemary

They Lie in Wait to Deceive, Vol. II, Mesa, AZ, 1984 (rev. 3d ed. 1993); on-line e-text available at the FAIR web-site. (new URL)

Although this widely-read, 480 page book is generally attractive and contains some hilarious Solomon Spalding cartoons, it is, at the same time, one of the most error-ridden and least useful publications I have ever encountered in the realm of Spalding studies. The Browns manage to present a convincing but tediously "holier-than-thou" refutation of the Howard Davis "Spalding fiasco." They might also be credited for reprinting a few rare old documents to easily accessible to most amateur investigators of the Spalding claims. Beyond these low-level contributions, the Browns' book has practically nothing to offer the serious student of the subject. Their comments regarding thematic parallels are unvarnished regurgitations from past negative reporting and provide absolutely no useful material whatever. I have written a lengthy review of the Spalding section of the Browns' book and direct interested readers to that essay for more information.

87. Reeve, Rex C., Jr.

"What is 'Manuscript Found'?" in: Jackson, Kent P. (editor) Manuscript Found -- The Complete Original "Spaulding Manuscript" BYU, 1996.

Reeve wrote the Introduction to Jackson's book, apparently originally as an independent paper for oral presentation in an entirely different context. It was subsequently attached to Jackson's Oberlin transcript with rather unsatisfactory results. The paper is not properly an introduction to the Oberlin MS itself and it pays little attention to that particular work. Rather, Reeve's paper is an attempt of summarizing the major points of the Spalding Authorship Theory from the standpoint of traditional "faith-promoting" Mormon apologetics. Practically the entire content of this slender document is derived from secondary and tertiary sources; Reeve does not appear to have done any special work in textual studies or research into other original materials.

After a pedestrian review of the development of the Spalding theory through the end of the 19th century, Reeve turns his reader's attention to thematic parallels with a quote from A. T. Schroeder and a brief excerpt from Bown's list. Reeve betrays his lack of any deep historical perspective at this point by equating Bown's list with "what was typically done by many others." He does not present any of Bown's comments regarding the thematic parallels and makes no attempt to deal with their possible ramifications for Book of Mormon believers.

Although Reeve is aware of Holley's work in its 1983 edition, he makes no mention of the fact that most of that publication is comprised of thematic parallels reporting. Similarly, Reeve passes over my own unpublished writings in Spalding studies with a brief note that they are concerned with "such things as writing style, thematic parallels, vocabulary, word construction, and word combinations." So, while the writer of the introduction to Jackson's book realizes that thematic parallels exist and are being studied, he is seemingly oblivious to the implications of such research within the larger context of Book of Mormon studies.

88. Chandler, Ted
"Book of Mormon Studies" web-page: (began 1997 -- old URL -- access files via archive.org)

With the appearance of Mr. Chandler's web-site in 1997, internet-based Spalding Studies immediately took a giant leap forward. The site is uncluttered, easy to navigate, and generally presents useful and interesting information for the Spalding studies newbie and the old-timer as well. This is not to say that Chandler makes any attempt at offering a balanced or objective relation of views and opinions regarding Mormonism. The faithful Latter Day Saint web-surfer should enter Chandler's sub-pages with a firm testimony, a solid grip on the "rod of iron," and a good deal of trepidation.

Still, once the visiter gets past the anti-Mormon expositions, there is a great deal of interesting material relating to Spalding manuscript/Book of Mormon thematic and phraseology to be viewed here. I'll not go into any detailed account of Chandler's presentations on thematic parallels for three reasons: (1. They may be easily accessed and evaluated simply by visiting his site. (2. I have made some contributions to Chandler's web-pages in his "unique parallels" sections and would rather not review my own work. (3. Chandler's special contributions to Spalding manuscript/Book of Mormon thematic parallels listings are incorporated (along with information from many other sources) in my "Sciota Revisited, Part III: Tabulation of All Thematic Parallels Cited Between 1834 and 1997" (currently under construction).

Some relevant web-pages at the "Book of Mormon Studies" site:

"Marching And Fighting Armies: Textual Parallels"
"Among the People: Textual Parallels"
"Defending Their Rights: Textual Parallels"
"Unique Parallels in the Spalding Manuscript"
"Parallels: Charts and Tabluations"
"Parallels: Textual Samples (Alma, etc.)"
"Parallels: Excerpts from Book of Alma"
"Textual Comparisons Mark-up" (see also: preliminary page, still at SRP)

The emergence of web-based Spalding studies offers many positive possibilities for the student of this subject, but there are also a few drawbacks involved with presentations via this medium. Web documents appear, change, and disappear with bewildering frequency. Unless a specific citation is documented with a hard-copy reproduction containing an exact web-address, date and time, the cited material may have been transparently changed, moved or deleted prior to a second attempt at viewing. Unless the viewer takes the trouble to print out and document web page contents, there will be an inevitable amount of confusion and frustration in any subsequent attempts at making good use of web-based information.

Another problem the student may encounter is that attractive, well-constructed and well-managed web-sites may actually contain information which is less veritable and reliable than that derived from a poorly conceived and badly developed site. The viewer may be tempted to put his or her trust in clearly presented, easily accessible information. The usual warnings about extending such trust should be especially remembered in web-browsing.

Chandler's site is the last chronological entry and the only individually listed virtual resource (outside of my own web-based documents and a preliminary review of Griffith's book) that I will currently provide in this part of the "Sciota Revisited" series. The reference I've provided here is intended more for the purposes of example than as the beginning of a set of web-links for Spalding materials. That sort of resource can better be managed through on-line consultation of the Mormon Classics links page.

Late Additions:

Two recent books by LDS authors, promoting the view that the Oberlin manuscript is actually the "Manuscript Found," and that it shares no notable resemblance to the Book of Mormon, are (1. Ronald W. Walker, et al., Mormon History (2001) and (2. Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon (2002). The message conveyed by these books is an important one, because both are issued from respected publishing houses and both will probably be influential in shaping scholarly and academic opinion in regard to the origin of the Book of Mormon.

Walker and his fellow authors (David J. Whittaker & James B. Allen) say: "the Spaulding explanation for the Book of Mormon had little evidence to support it... Hurlbut had secured from Spaulding's widow the draft copy of "Manuscript Found," which, when examined, bore little similarity to the Book of Mormon. Faced with this difficulty, Howe offered the hypothesis that Spaulding must have written another draft of "Manuscript Found," yet to be discovered.... However, when the Spaulding manuscript was discovered among Howe's papers in Hawaii in 1884 and when no "second" manuscript came to light, the theory began to give way."

Dr. Terryl L. Givens is even more assertive in his denigration of what he calls "the Spaulding-Rigdon theory." The following string of excerpts give the jist of Givens' reconstruction of things: "Unbelievers... [had] to discredit Joseph as author. He had to have received, in other words, the help of a collaborator. Sidney Rigdon, the enthusiastic convert, was the first suspect... Rigdon's source, they soon alleged, had been one Solomon Spaulding. Though lack of factual evidence has led virtually all scholars to dismiss the theory... Hurlbut... managed to find... the manuscript in question. As it turned out, the manuscript described the adventures not of Jewish seafarers fleeing to America, but Romans blown off course en route to "Brittain. " And the main characters were not Nephi and Lehi, but Fabius, Hamboon, Ulipoon, and the like. With the two main contentions of the [Conneaut] affidavits discredited (shared names and "leading incidents" between the two works), one would have expected the theory to die a quiet death....Then, in 1884, the Spaulding manuscript... surfaced again and was positively identified as the one first recovered by Hurlbut. Even with the manuscript now available to compare, sporadic attempts to reassert its role as a source would persist until 1945. In that year, Fawn Brodie, writing authoritatively as one of the first Mormon debunkers to be taken seriously as a scholar, gave the Spaulding theory a proper burial."

It would appear that the learned conclusions presented in these two important books set the tone for LDS exposition well into the 21st century, and it is the same old "broken record" of a party line spread by the Mormon apologists and polemicists countless times over the past 120 years, viz.: Spalding only ever wrote one manuscript; it was discovered in 1884 and bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon; therefore Fawn M. Brodie properly buried the fallacious Spalding authorship claims in 1945. This being the consensus opinion among the scholars of Mormon history nowadays, any attempts by modern researchers to direct their attention back to the little-studied Spalding/Book of Mormon literary parallels seem to be of little more use than tilting at windmills. In 1980 I presented my "New Basis for the Spalding Theory" paper before a meeting of the John Whitmer Historical Association, and was advised by my responder that such textual studies were not meaningful unless they could be placed within a corroborative historical context. Then, in 2001, I presented my "Crisis at Kirtland" paper, detailing the role of D. P. Hurlbut in recovering Solomon Spalding's writings, and was advised by my responder that such historical reconstructions were not meaningful unless they could be supported by corroborative textual studies. Other than to pause momentarily and savor the exquisite irony of this latter day "catch-22," there is probably no reason for me to do or say anything more at this point.

Dale R. Broadhurst
updated Feb. 16, 2003

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